Wednesday, October 17 , 2018, 4:50 pm | Fair 76º

 
 
 
 

Women with MOXI Focus on a More Inclusive Future for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math

Jill Chase, Elizabeth Gabler and Pam Lopker see The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation as a catalyst to inspire young girls to follow their pioneering leads

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[Noozhawk’s note: Second in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation. Click here for the first article.]

The women behind MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, hope the next generation of trailblazers will regard education over gender, empower all people heading for futures in science, technology, the arts and math, and forever set aside sexist stumbling blocks.

Noozhawk had the chance to chat with three of these women — trailblazers themselves and ardent supporters of the new science museum’s mission.

“I hope that we will see not just a significant increase in particularly young girls who grow up to be scientists and engineers in STEM-related fields, but that there’s no difference,” said Jill Chase, vice president of the Santa Barbara-based HHV-6 Foundation.

Chase, a renowned scientist, also volunteers as a member of the exhibits committee for MOXI. The brand-new venture at 125 State St. will be a 21st-century museum dedicated to igniting learning through innovative, interactive experiences that spark a lasting passion for science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

“Being a woman whose passion was engineering with science and who fought the odds to go into the aerospace engineering program, it’s very important to me that a place like MOXI exists in our community, where boys and girls can be connected to whatever lights their fire, turns them on, and for others to discover a passion there,” she said.

Scheduled to open in late 2016, MOXI will serve children of all ages as well as lifelong learners. It also will be Santa Barbara County’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified museum.

“It is interesting to me that women don’t pursue science,” remarked Pam Lopker, founder and CEO of QAD, a Summerland software development company and MOXI advocate.

“Why did that happen? There’s absolutely no reason why girls can’t do whatever they want.”

MOXI’s interactive exhibits, designed by award-winning museum planning firm Gyroscope Inc., align with the national agenda to boost student achievement in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Scientist Jill Chase defied odds to get herself into the aerospace engineering program in college, and thinks MOXI has the potential to make it easier for other young women with similar aspirations. “It was hard to prove to my professors that I was serious, that I was the real deal,” she says. “Hopefully, those misconceptions won’t exist much longer.” Click to view larger
Scientist Jill Chase defied odds to get herself into the aerospace engineering program in college, and thinks MOXI has the potential to make it easier for other young women with similar aspirations. “It was hard to prove to my professors that I was serious, that I was the real deal,” she says. “Hopefully, those misconceptions won’t exist much longer.” (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The museum also will serve as a hub for community education with special events, and educational programs for the community at large.

Elizabeth Gabler, a MOXI founding board member, is president of Fox 2000 Pictures, a division of 20th Century Fox. She has been instrumental in bringing the arts into the fold, with the development of a foley studio where visitors will meld art with technology.

“We’ve been able to bring in innovative, challenging ideas that are far ahead as far as what’s going on in technology and what can come in the years ahead,” she said.

Hands-on activities, workshops, youth clubs, after-school programs, outreach programs and more are already in the making. Founding members and supporters hope the center will attract local youth as well as visitors from around the world.

“We have beautiful beaches ... but wouldn’t it be great to have a place you can bring the whole family for a learning experience that’s also inspirational and fun?” Gabler asked. “It’s a great gift to bring to life for our community.”

Through various planned programs, the museum will strive to connect those interested in pursuing careers in the arts and STEM-related fields with the South Coast’s thriving population of industry leaders.

“Mentors are critical, and MOXI is going to be a hub for the community to come together and connect,” Chase explained. “It might sound like a simple task, but we’re connecting kids to future mentors, to people who can help them understand it could be them someday.

“It’s happening here in Santa Barbara, not somewhere far away. We have a really active biotech industry, science and engineering right here. It’s important to get involved if you feel passionate about something like that.”

Hollywood executive Elizabeth Gabler is excited about MOXI’s nexus of art and technology, which she calls “a learning experience that’s also inspirational and fun.” Click to view larger
Hollywood executive Elizabeth Gabler is excited about MOXI’s nexus of art and technology, which she calls “a learning experience that’s also inspirational and fun.” (Fox 2000 Pictures photo)

Passion for their industries drove all three women to the positions in media, technology and science leadership they hold today.

“Growing up in Houston, I had the dream that every child has there of becoming an astronaut,” Chase said. “When I went through high school, I chose astronautical engineering, not because I thought it would be the hardest thing to do or to prove anyone wrong, but because it came easy for me.”

In a class of 90 students in the engineering program at her university, Chase was one of only four women enrolled. Two of those were military. One went on to become a doctor.

Today, she holds degrees in aerospace/astronautical engineering and biomedical engineering, a masters degree in neuropsychology and a masters degree in writing.

Raised by a father who encouraged her exploration of the sciences, Chase hopes MOXI will help bring about a sea change in attitudes about women in the sciences.

“Misconceptions still exist,” she said. “It was hard to prove to my professors that I was serious, that I was the real deal. I didn’t see myself differently than my male counterparts. I didn’t allow anyone to treat me differently.

“Hopefully, those misconceptions won’t exist much longer.”

Lopker said girls have to begin by taking themselves and their futures seriously.

Software entrepreneuer Pam Lopker thinks the MOXI mission will help demystify science and technology — and open up important career opportunities. “There’s a lot of families and a lot of kids whose parents aren’t from a science background,” she says. “MOXI will help bridge that gap to expose those kids more to science. That’s where the jobs are.” Click to view larger
Software entrepreneuer Pam Lopker thinks the MOXI mission will help demystify science and technology — and open up important career opportunities. “There’s a lot of families and a lot of kids whose parents aren’t from a science background,” she says. “MOXI will help bridge that gap to expose those kids more to science. That’s where the jobs are.” (QAD photo)

“I’m very practical,” she said. “I thought about, when I graduate, where am I going to get a job? How am I going to support myself? I want to be able to move right into something that’s financially sustaining.”

And parents must take their children’s interests seriously as well.

“People in your life influence you,” Lopker noted. “It directs where you’re going to end up.

“I think there’s a lot of families and a lot of kids whose parents aren’t from a science background. MOXI will help bridge that gap to expose those kids more to science. That’s where the jobs are.”

When MOXI opens later this year, it expects to have a staff of more than 20 full- and part-time employees as well as a team of community volunteers.

MOXI is currently engaged in a $25 million capital campaign to fund the building, exhibits and an endowment for the future.

Click here for more information about MOXI, or contact the organization at [email protected] or 805.708.2282. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jennifer Best can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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