Why I Study Inclusion in Engineering Education

As the year closes, I am reflecting on my journey into being a graduate student and how I found a topic of research that I am passionate about. My name is Andrea Haverkamp, and I am currently a PhD candidate in environmental engineering at Oregon State University, and also minoring in Queer Studies. These academic fields have blended together in an exciting way as I now study inclusivity and equity in the engineering classroom. 

I have been in engineering for almost 12 years now, between two degrees and several jobs and internships in engineering. Before coming to college, I really wanted to be a high school science teacher. At the urging of my family and teachers I ended up majoring in chemical engineering. I discovered once starting my undergraduate degree that the culture of engineering towards women was often diminishing and the classrooms were not as diverse or welcoming as in other spaces. I am a gay woman as well, creating what some would consider a “multiply marginalized” identity. After hearing a number of gay jokes during class and already being shy, I began to not openly discuss my dating or outside life to my classmates. LGBTQ+ people and women face unconscious bias and stereotypes wherever we go and they can both blend together in uniquely uncomfortable ways for gay women. I also remained hidden during my environmental engineering internships out of fear and lack of diversity initiatives in engineering. When I graduated and started my first job as a process engineer I began to experience the common hurdles that women and LGBTQ+ people in the workplace overcome every day. I was talked over, had projects taken from me and given to men on our team when the projects proved promising or expanded, and had co-workers make comments about me and another woman’s appearances. The attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people were often unfriendly too – I heard coworkers during lunch make “gay jokes” and say discriminatory statements towards a machine operator who was transgender. I continued to not discuss my identity or social life at the workplace, as I feared these statements would make my life as a woman in engineering even more difficult. I once heard a senior engineering manager make highly discriminatory statements towards immigrants as well. The lack of inclusivity made me uncomfortable. I felt very alone in caring about these topics and became very detached from my work.

I had the opportunity through this employer to obtain a Master of Engineering degree as part of a employee development program. It was during this degree program that I took a life changing course – Engineering Education Research. This topic was completely new to me, as all of my courses revolved around mathematics, physics, fluids, and other typical chemical and environmental engineering topics. During this course I was first exposed to the rich research topics that engineering educators and sociologists are studying across the country. Topics range from conceptual learning (how to best learn engineering), engineering philosophy (what is engineering?), and engineering equity and inclusion (the professional climate for underrepresented groups). I had never known that engineers worked on this!

Taking this course, I learned that the negative workplace and classroom experiences of LGBTQ+ people, women, and people of color were not something I was imagining. These were very real dynamics that other engineers were studying and researching. This research even has the support from large National Science Foundation initiatives to create a diverse engineering profession. I learned that this research community is growing, with degrees specifically in Engineering Education starting to appear at universities. The professor of this class saw my enthusiasm and we began to meet in office hours frequently. I became very passionate about this topic but sadly, once I graduated, I had to return to the job where these research topics of inclusion and equity felt very real. He told me that I should consider staying for a PhD to join this research field. It felt daunting as someone who had only studied chemical and environmental engineering. I was so fresh to the topic of education that I didn’t believe I could do it.

The turning point in my professional life came during a new position I had as a project engineer. When touring one of our workplaces I came across a cubicle which faced the hallway. On this cubicle wall (belonging to an engineer) were cartoons with highly negative, and what I saw as offensive, cartoons disparaging women, LGBTQ+ people, and the indigenous peoples of North America. I was furious! I made documentation, talked to management, contacted our equal opportunity office, and the cartoons were taken down. I realized that I felt a calling to make sure that this and the other things I had witnessed would never happen again.

Within the year I left that job and was accepted to a PhD program to work on a topic I was passionate about – diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering education. My experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ population informed my research proposal to highlight and document the experiences of undergraduate students and identify the strategies they use to succeed in the classroom. I am excited by the work I do every day. In addition to engineering, I am pursuing a PhD minor in Queer Studies which compliments my research. I finally feel like I found a place in engineering where my real-world experiences can merge with my research to make a better future in engineering. As a high schooler I wanted to teach science, and now I see my true life calling, which is to become an inclusive and welcoming educator in engineering.

Organizations such as SWE, and specifically GradSWE during graduate school, have been instrumental towards my own success and professional development. I cannot change what I saw and experienced the past decade, but I have found a place in my career where I can affect change on many levels through my work. Together we will create an engineering that uplifts all of us!

 

If you are interested in contributing in any way to GradSWE’s Diversity & Inclusion team (such as assisting in blog posts, brainstorming ideas, sharing ways we can become more inclusive, or developing outreach initiatives) please contact Diversity & Inclusion Liason Andrea Haverkamp at gradswe.dil@gmail.com We look forward to working with you!

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Consider joining our team as Graduate Programming Coordinator-Elect

Throughout my academic career, I have not lacked strong women role models whether as mentors or as my peers. This is not the case for everyone…

I knew about the Society of Women Engineers during my undergraduate career and attended a few meetings and social events throughout the years, but was substantially more focused on coursework and research than intentionally building a supportive scientific community. I didn’t feel I needed it. My research mentor was a woman who always made me feel valued and capable of being in STEM. I never felt like the minority, like I had something to prove, or like I didn’t belong. This is not the case for everyone…

I went directly from my undergraduate into graduate school. The students in my cohort were very friendly and social. We spent time working on homework and discussing research directions but also talked about non-academic life. My female officemate (or Science Sister as I now refer to her) and I became friends early on. Although we have very different personalities, we have walked alongside each other through not only the ups and downs of graduate school but also of life. I always felt supported-like I had someone in my corner. This is not the case for everyone…

As I continued through grad school, I started hearing (or maybe I hadn’t been listening) more about other peoples experiences as a woman in STEM. I realized that my case was not the case for everyone. Many of my friends and colleagues have experienced feeling isolated or like an imposter. In hopes of giving others a similar sense of belonging and community to what I had experienced, I got involved in establishing and growing a GradSWE group at my university. Though my initial intention was to establish a community for others, I found that magnitude of the community I thought I had paled in comparison to what  I experienced through the GradSWE group.

When approached by someone on the society-level GradSWE team about the Graduate Programming Coordinator (GPC) role, I was excited by the opportunity to stay involved in SWE, knowing that my leadership role at my university was transitioning soon. The main role of the GPC is soliciting, organizing, and promoting the graduate focused content for the annual conference. Throughout the process, I was overwhelmed by the tapestry of experiences that make up the members of SWE and specifically GradSWE. Whether your experiences are similar to mine or the complete opposite, there is still a role for you in growing and building the community of women in STEM. You may not feel like YOU need the support, but I guarantee there is someone that needs YOUR support.

Consider joining our team as Graduate Programming Coordinator-Elect (GPC-E):

The application is now open.

This position carries a two-year term (one year as coordinator-elect and one year as coordinator) filled by a SWE graduate student or recent Ph.D./M.S. graduate. The time commitment is usually 2-3 hours/week and is closer to 7-10 hours/week in the weeks before the annual conference. All meetings are through conference calls, except for the required annual conference attendance for both WE19 and WE20.

Deadline for applications is Monday, December 31, 2018, 11:59 pm CDT (Midnight).
All applications will then be reviewed and applicants will be contacted in January.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at gradsweprogramming@gmail.com.

Recap: SWE Annual Conference-WE18

Another annual conference is in the books for the Society of Women Engineers where more than 14,000 women engineers gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center last month.

Our graduate community participates in the conference in a variety of ways including hosting professional development sessions, competing in research presentations, exploring the career fair, and networking at the Graduate Member Meeting and Graduate Student Reception.

Graduate Poster & Rapid Fire Competition:

Twenty graduate students were selected from those that submitted abstracts for the Graduate Poster & Rapid Fire Competition. Ten students competed in each category (poster or rapid fire) where they were evaluated on their research and presentation skills. Congratulations to the following award recipients:

Graduate Poster Competition Results
(1st) Samantha Zellner
Corrosion Measurement of Silicon Carbide
University of North Texas

(2nd) Sarah Robb
Is faster FDA review time for cardiovascular devices correlated with adverse health outcomes, as evidenced by increased recalls?
Carnegie Mellon University

(3rd) Rachel Tenney
Production of Nitrogen- and Phosphorus-Rich Crystals from Municipal Wastewater for Sustainable Nutrient Recovery
University of Minnesota

Graduate Rapid Fire Competition Results
(1st) Jennifer DiStefano
Utilizing 2D Materials in Core-shell Nanocomposites
Northwestern University

(2nd) Caymen Novak
Compressive Stimulus Enhances Ovarian Cancer Proliferation, Invasion, and Mechanotransduction in a Novel 3D Compression Bioreactor
University of Michigan

(3rd) Kritika Iyer
Non-Invasive Diagnostics of Coronary Artery Disease Using Machine Learning and Computational Fluid Dynamics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Graduate Member Meeting:

Our member meeting is open to all graduates and serves to update our members on current GradSWE initiatives and what they can do to increase graduate student involvement in SWE at their university. The meeting slides contain pertinent links and tips for developing a GradSWE group.

Graduate Student Reception (Sponsored by Praxair and Autodesk):

With over 60 attendees, the Graduate Student Reception continues to grow and is an opportunity for networking and idea sharing among peers and the sponsors. We would like to once again thank Autodesk and Praxair for their support of the SWE graduate community! 20181019_172539

Join our team as Graduate Programming Coordinator-Elect (GPC-E):

Do you want to get involved in GradSWE at the Society level? The application is now open for the Graduate Programming Coordinator-Elect (GPC-Elect) position.

This position carries a two-year term (one year as coordinator-elect and one year as coordinator) filled by a SWE graduate student or recent Ph.D./M.S. graduate. The time commitment is usually 2-3 hours/week and is closer to 7-10 hours/week in the weeks before the annual conference. All meetings are through conference calls, except for the required annual conference attendance for both WE19 and WE20.

Deadline for applications is Monday, December 31, 2018 11:59 pm CDT (Midnight).
All applications will then be reviewed and applicants will be contacted in January.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at gradsweprogramming@gmail.com.

GradSWE Journeys in Leadership: Part 1

By Cecilia Klauber, FY19 Grad Member Coordinator Elect

When looking at an organization as large as SWE, it can be hard to understand all the opportunities and how to leverage them to achieve your leadership and service goals. The purpose of the GradSWE: Journeys in Leadership series is to de-mystify just a few of the leadership pathways in SWE. Join me over the next few weeks as I blog about section and society-level options you can pursue now or aspire to in your SWE future!

Hopefully you’ll be inspired to explore your options and to ask your peers, mentors, and the GradSWE community what paths they took and opportunities they know of!

My SWE Journey

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I love catching up with Baylor alums at annual conference!

I first joined SWE as a freshman at Baylor University. I had just moved two time zones away from my friends and family, and SWE was one of a few engineering student organizations that helped me find community, as well as study groups and professional development opportunities. I was an officer in the section my junior year, but I wasn’t sure what extracurriculars I would have time for as a graduate student.

GradSWE at Illinois and I had a slow start, but when I started volunteering for their weSTEM Conference and helping plan social events, I was hooked. Before I knew it, I had a committee position, friends in STEM departments across campus, and a support group for the days when grad school was especially rough. Throughout my time in various positions on the GradSWE at Illinois Committee I was able to improve my communication and strategic thinking skills and when I led the GradSWE group in FY17, I especially honed my conflict resolution and people management skills. My involvement with GradSWE at Illinois was one of the best things about my time in Illinois and I am so thankful to have the close friends and leadership experience I gained.

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The weSTEM 2016 committee at Illinois.

As I transitioned to Texas A&M this year, I knew I wanted to continue to stay connected to SWE as I finished school and began a career, but all I really knew was how to be involved at the collegiate section level and a little bit of understanding of the now defunct Region structure. I wasn’t even 100% sure about the structure of the GradSWE Leadership Team and how it fit into the organization as a whole when I was interviewing for my current position!

Now here I am as FY19 Graduate Member Coordinator Elect and I am constantly amazed that I get to work with such amazing people from across the country who are passionate about SWE’s mission! Working at the society level has been eye-opening and challenging, but so worth it. As I work with people remotely or meet them at annual conference and hear about how they have exercised leadership within the organization, it gets me excited about what my SWE future could hold. After I graduate, I think I would like to try joining a different committee and I hope to be in an area with a strong professional section that I can participate it.

What path will you take?

There are so many ways to get involved in SWE and there is no one right path to success within the organization. I hope you can take a moment to reflect on your experiences with SWE and dream about how SWE might help you develop and grow as a leader!image3

I look forward to sharing more insights about potential leadership pathways for you to explore in SWE in the coming weeks. If you have any particular questions or particular perspectives you would like to hear from regarding future leadership opportunities, please comment, or email me directly at grad-coordinator-elect@swe.org.

 

Graduate Member Spotlight: Rasika Bhalerao

Graduate Member Spotlight

Rasika Bhalerao

Ph.D.

Computer Science

Expected Graduation Date: 2021

New York University

Rasika has been involved in SWE since her freshman year of undergrad at the University of Washington, when she joined the section of about 30 students. During her second year, she served as a Director of Evening With Industry, an annual 1000-student career fair and 200-member banquet. During her junior and senior years, she served as the treasurer of UW’s section. By the time she graduated, the section had over 400 students, and she greatly enjoyed watching it grow. This year, she is the Social Media Coordinator for the SWE Grad Leadership Team, and continues to work on her graduate degree at NYU. She has been to several SWE conferences, and you may see her at one soon!

Rasika’s hard work and dedication go further than SWE alone. She has been involved in acapella, and her most cherished award is the one that her acapella group named after her, the Rasika Bhalerao Award, in 2017. It is awarded to the most helpful and caring member. She also works as a teaching assistant in the Computer Science department.

Rasika’s research is focused on applying machine learning and natural language processing tools to cybersecurity. She is currently working on a project analyzing cybercriminal underground forums.

Rasika is keeping her options open for her future career opportunities. Her love of teaching (and research interests) inspire her to pursue a career in academia. She is also, however, currently making strong industry connections in her field.

Outside of computer science, Rasika enjoys playing the piano and rock climbing.

Fun Fact about Rasika: Despite being allergic to cats, Rasika participates in a cat fostering program.

rasika

Graduate Member Spotlight: Megan Beck

Graduate Member Spotlight: Megan Beck

Graduate Member Spotlight

Megan E. Beck

Ph.D.

Materials Science and Engineering

Expected Graduation Date: Summer 2019

Northwestern University

This year, we are excited to have Megan Beck serve as our Graduate Programming Coordinator, where she has been instrumental in ensuring there is a graduate student presence at WE18. She has organized abstract submissions by graduate students and is organizing the graduate student meeting at WE18. Her hard work has ensured the graduate presence at annual conference so if you are planning to attend conference, be sure to meet Megan! Before she joined the societal GradSWE team, Megan gained substantial SWE experience at the section-level. She has worked diligently over the last two years to establish and grow a GradSWE group at Northwestern University. Her work has paid off, as the group is officially recognized by NU, and they have secured a $3000 grant to fund a suite of professional development, outreach, and social programming.

Megan has also been involved in her graduate community outside of SWE. She has worked over the last year and a half to co-found a new group in her department (Material Science and Engineering). This new group, Materials Science Alliance for an Inclusive Community (MatSAIC), advocates for inclusion and diversity in STEM fields. The group works to promote interactions between graduate students and professors from a variety of backgrounds by inviting Materials Science and Engineering Department colloquium speakers who demonstrate outstanding efforts in promoting inclusion in STEM to take part in the quarterly MatSAIC seminar series on their own experiences and how they promote diversity and inclusion. She also serves on the NU Materials Research Science and Engineering Center Student Leadership Team.

Megan has proved her technical merit and has been recognized with a long list of awards. Most significantly, she was awarded fellowships though both the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduation Research Fellowship program. Megan has demonstrated great interest and skill in teaching and has received a Teaching Certificate from Northwestern SEARLE Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. This summer, she was selected by the Kellogg School of Management at NU and received a Management for Scientist and Engineers Certificate.

 

Research Topic: Self-Aligned van der Waals Heterojunction Diodes and Transistors

Because numerous novel and attractive properties have been revealed in atomically thin, low-dimensional materials, it is possible to envision a future comprised of low-power, tunable, flexible, ultra thin devices. Toward this goal, it is necessary to develop fabrication methods specifically for these atomically thin materials instead of relying on the conventional silicon based methods.  Megan’s Ph.D. research at Northwestern University has focused on developing device fabrication processes that allow us to fully leverage the properties of low-dimensional materials and make more complicated electronic device geometries. Specifically she and her team developed a processing platform that has (1) minimized short-channel effects (channel lengths < 200nm) and improve current saturation in MoS2 transistors, (2) enabled dual-gate control of antiambipolar behavior in MoS2-black phosphorus thin-film junctions via e-beam lithography and (3) been adapted to wafer-scale processing via photolithography for dual-gated self-aligned MoS2-CNT heterojunctions. Overall, this self-aligned fabrication method represents an important step toward the scalable integration of van der Waals heterojunction devices into more sophisticated circuits and systems.

After graduation, Megan sees herself working in scientific consulting or R&D in the semiconductor industry. Outside of her technical endeavors, Megan is very involved in her church community and spends her free time cooking, crocheting, and playing with her rat terrier, Una.

Fun fact about Megan: Megan grew up in a small town (pop. 2400) in rural northern Idaho. She is one of a handful of people from her town who moved more than an hour away for their undergraduate degree and one of an even smaller number that left the state after undergrad.

beck_headshot_2016

 

Call for Graduate Programming Coordinator-Elect

WE17

Apply to be GPC-elect. Applications due Dec 31.

Are you excited about the growing number of opportunities for graduate students in SWE? Did you attend WE17 or a past conference and were inspired to be a leader in the GradSWE community?

The GPC-elect works alongside the GPC to organize the graduate student focused events at the annual conference. Learn more about the graduate leadership team here. Through the GPC-elect role, you get to work with a wonderful team of leaders to help shape sessions impacting the SWE graduate community. Additionally, there are numerous networking opportunities accompanying this role where you can create long-lasting connections. For this role, you would serve as GPC-elect for WE18 and GPC for WE19 (attendance is required at both conferences). This position runs from January 2018 to December 2019.

Applications are due Sunday, December 31 at 11:59 PM PT. Application here. For question, contact past-GPC Emily Hoffman at emilyhoffman18@gmail.com.