Recognizing a challenge that many engineering departments face, one of our board members, Diane Philips, jumped on an opportunity to foster new relationships and inspire the women in the College of Engineering at UMass Dartmouth.
Through Diane’s role on the UMass Dartmouth Alumni Board, the project started with a conversation with Dr. Jean VanderGheynst, the new UMass Dartmouth Dean of Engineering around the percentages of women graduating from the UMass Engineering discipline. Though the national average for women graduating in undergraduate engineering is 21%, the annual average at UMass Dartmouth was only 15%. Diane and Dr. VanderGheynst had a plan to inspire women to stay in college by providing relevant industry experience from women further along in their careers.
“I figured if we could tell them about the defense industry, maybe we’ll paint a picture of where they could work later on,” describes Diane. Fast forward to October 2nd where a group of 35 students and 35 industry and academia professionals shared food, drinks, and comradery during an evening of speed-networking, a keynote presentation by our very own Rachel McCaffrey, WID-GBC Executive Director, and a panel discussion with 5 esteemed speakers from various defense organizations, including our Board member Dr. Charlene Mello of Combat Capabilities Development Command – Soldier Center (CCDC-SC). The current students came prepared, through a pre-engagement with the UMass Career Center, in which they practiced questions and learned the nuances of networking. Attendees walked away with smiles on their faces and an expanded and enriched network.
Thanks to the success of the event and the generous support of our sponsors, not only was WID-GBC able to provide the event and food at no cost to the students, a new $1000 UMass Engineering scholarship has been established by WID-GBC to further enable tomorrow’s students to succeed. Diane delivered a presentation of this event at the NDIA 100th Anniversary National Leadership Conference to NDIA and WID chapter presidents, and the event will serve as a model for future engagements of this kind.