UDM attracts women in engineering
While debate continues over Harvard University President’s remarks
about the “intrinsic aptitude” of men versus women to excel at
science and math, UDM continues to attract impressive percentages of female
students to its undergraduate engineering program. Based on Fall 2003 data
from the Engineering Workforce Commission of the American Association of Engineering
Societies, UDM has 28.6 percent female undergraduate students in engineering
while the national average is only 18.1 percent of all undergraduate engineering
students, and 19.1 percent in Michigan. The data places UDM in the top 10
percent nationally for the percentage of female students in its undergraduate
This may be attributed in part to programs designed to expose high school students to the benefits of an engineering and science career. One such program, UDM’s “Engineering Road Show,” peaked prospective student Mary Webber’s interest. Currently a senior taking pre-calculus at Jefferson High School in Monroe, she was already interested in product design when E&S Dean Leo E. Hanifin visited her school to discuss UDM’s offerings.
“Dean Hanifin’s talk made the UDM program sound very interesting,
especially about new technologies,” she says. “I like the way UDM presents itself and that it offers internships and co-ops.”
She hopes to enter UDM this fall.
Dean Hanifin has presented the “Engineering Road Show” to more
than 1,100 students at 26 schools from Monroe to Clarkston since last fall,
with more than 100 submitting cards of inquiry about UDM. The show shares
information about the need for engineers, the satisfaction and rewards of
engineering careers and a demonstration of a mobile robot that students designed
Rebekah Sirna says she was always good at math and science and “wanted to design things.” As a UDM junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering, she is a co-op student at the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) where she is helping with 3-dimension modeling of military vehicles and related applications. “It’s great experience to get before graduation,” she states.
Two things that attracted her to UDM, she adds, are its small class sizes
(“I know my teachers; they know me”) and the co-op program.
Stephanie Tamm, another UDM co-op student at TARDEC, says, “I decided on Engineering because I was on a robotics team for four years in high school. Then I did research to determine which branch of engineering was best for me.”
Now she’s using information gleaned in her UDM Statistics and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) classes, among others, in her co-op role.
To interest and support women, and men, in engineering and science, UDM offers several other programs.
- An annual Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer Camp for Girls (STEPS) brings sophomore and junior high-school girls from throughout Michigan to campus for a week to build self-guided robots, visit an automotive plant, talk to women engineers and learn about teamwork.
- A “mini” STEPS experience called “STEPS into High School” brings young women from area high schools on a series of field trips to campus. In 2003-04, approximately 160 students representing 10 high schools participated. Most were part of Ford Motor Company’s High School Partnership Program.
- A grant from the Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Foundation will fund four two-year scholarships for women in mathematics, science and engineering. Two scholarships will be awarded in 2005-2006 and two in 2006-2007 to students to complete their junior and senior years. A mentorship system is planned to complement the scholarships, with women faculty mentoring the scholarship recipients. They, in turn, will mentor freshman and sophomore women in the specified fields of study. All involved also will participate in UDM’s outreach programs for local high school women interested in science and engineering.
- The Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) brings
under-represented minority high school students--girls and boys--to campus for engineering-related experiences.