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Summer 2005

UDM attracts women in engineering

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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 engineering program.

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 and built.

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.