Towards a global virtual community of female engineering students and professionals

Towards a global virtual community of female engineering students and professionals

Academic Year:
2014 - 2015 (June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2015)
Funding Requested:
$4,000.00
Project Dates:
-
Applicant(s):
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
This August, approximately ten graduate and undergraduate members of the Society of Women Engineers at the University of Michigan (UM-SWE) will travel to Liberia, West Africa, to partner with the newly-formed Liberia Society of Women Engineers (L-SWE) student organization to carry out a leadership camp for up to 30 of the Liberian women in engineering peers from the University of Liberia. The goals of this leadership camp are two-fold (i) to empower the Liberian and US women engineers with the skills, support and inspiration necessary to becoming successful and well rounded engineering professionals; and (ii) to build a virtual community of female engineers resulting in an international network of female engineering professionals. The research questions we intend to pursue are the following: 1) How does the implementation of the international professional organization, the Society of Women Engineers, and the subsequent leadership camp influence the experience of US and Liberian women studying engineering and their future professional opportunities? 2) How does an international partnership of student organizations influence the experience and international perspective of U.S. and Liberian students? With the Psychological Sense of Community as the basis of our conceptual framework, we will carry out a rigorous qualitative research study to answer our research questions focusing on the rich descriptions of perspectives provided by students. We will stay in contact with both cohorts of students (US and Liberian) and keep track of any change/improvement to their academic performance as well as their ability to garner relevant internships and entry-level positions.
Proposal PDF:
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:

The objectives were focused on the implementation of a leadership camp for female Liberian engineering undergraduate women. The ultimate goal is to empower the Liberian women engineers with the skills, support and inspiration necessary to becoming successful engineering professionals. The leadership camp was planned and facilitated collaboratively by the members of the University of Michigan Society of Women Engineers (UM-SWE) student chapter and the Liberia Society of Women Engineers (L-SWE) student organization. The camp was 2 week-long and had a workshop-based format with two themes: (i) academic and professional skills, and (ii) student organization development.

Project Achievements:

The first edition of this camp took place in Summer 2015 (It was originally planned for 2014 but had to be postponed because of the Ebola outbreak that summer). Thirty Liberian students from three technical institutions in Liberia; the University of Liberia, Stella Maris Polytechnic and St. Clements University College; participated in the event, which took place at the Peace Corps Liberia training center in Kakata, Margibi County. Engineering professionals were also involved both as invited speakers and some as attendees. This event was a huge success and has motivated the L-SWE members to organize a second edition to benefit a greater number of students. Being able to organize the camp more than once will provide the Liberian students with the necessary skills to create a sustainable model for such a camp. There is strong support for such activities from the administration at the University of Liberia, i.e. the dean of Engineering.

Continuation:
A second edition of the camp is planned for August 2016. Funding has been secured from the UM College of Engineering directly to the UM SWE organization and a STEM Africa grant from the UM African Studies center.
Dissemination:
The following conference proceedings and presentations have been used to disseminate the work:

Reddivari, S., Dryer, E., Rimer, S. and Cotel, A. “Towards a global virtual community of female engineering students and professionals: I. Impacts of grassroots international partnerships of student organizations on U.S. engineering undergraduate cultural competency”, ASEE 123rd Annual Conference and Exposition, New Orleans, June 2016.

Rimer, S., Reddivari, S., Dryer, E. and Cotel, A. “Towards a global virtual community of female engineering students and professionals: II. Impacts of leadership camp on Liberian undergraduate women studying engineering”, ASEE 123rd Annual Conference and Exposition, New Orleans, June 2016.

Rimer, S., Reddivari, S., Dryer, E. and Cotel, A. “Engineering education research: Impacts of an international network of female engineers on the persistence of Liberian undergraduate women studying engineering, 68th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, November 2015, Boston, MA.