CWIT Spotlight: Elyse Hill

March is Women’s History Month!

Three  years ago Women’s History Month’s national theme was “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” The theme honored generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the STEM fields. At UMBC we honored this theme by partnering with the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) to feature some of their amazing students participating in technology in the engineering and information technology fields. While the theme for Women’s History Month changes every year, we have come to love the tradition in spotlighting the stories of UMBC’s CWIT women. So with that, we are honored to bring you the 3rd Annual CWIT Showcase in honor of Women’s History Month.

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Elyse Hill
Mechanical Engineering
CWIT  Scholar

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Meet Elyse Hill! A CWIT Scholar and mechanical engineering major.

Describe what sparked your interest STEM and the journey to choosing your major.

My interest in STEM was sparked in middle school by my mother. I had a heavy interest in architecture at the time and my mom suggested to me that I should look into pursuing the math and science behind the architecture. That led me to look into engineering, which I found to be a very broad field. In the summer of my 10th grade year, I went to an Exploring Engineering camp at the University of Maryland, College Park where I was exposed to the many disciplines in engineering that UMD had to offer. After coming to UMBC, I decided on mechanical engineering because I found that it was the most versatile of the engineering programs we offer here.

Tell us about an internship, research experience or project that you are proud of.

Last summer, I studied abroad in Lille, France at the Catholic University of Lille. There, many other students and myself engaged in culture classes, french classes, and discipline-specific classes (I took a solar energy course) while getting to experience French and European culture. I was very proud of this experience because I got to successfully apply the language I studied in high school while immersing myself in a foreign culture. The day I was the proudest was the day I wandered around the city of Brussels all by myself with only my map and a language I barely spoke as my tools.

Who are your role models in the engineering or IT field? How have their stories influenced your educational or career goals.

I have many role models in my major, the most impactful of which have beenUMBC’s  Dr. Maria Sanchez and Dr. Anne Spence. Recently, I’ve developed an interest in the field of engineering education, something both Dr. Spence and Dr. Sanchez do research in and hold a passion for. When I discussed this field with each of them, they expressed to me their own opinion on the subject and how it is a rising field of great importance. Since hearing their explanations, I have been more motivated to consider the field as a research topic for graduate school. Thanks to an email from Dr. Spence, I found out about an REU focused on engineering education that I applied for and got accepted to for this summer. In addition to their advice, just them being women in engineering is influential to me, and motivates me to become a college professor who inspires students, just as they have inspired me.

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Women’s History Month CWIT Spotlight: Alejandra Diaz

March is Women’s History Month!

Two  years ago Women’s History Month’s national theme was “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” The theme honored generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the STEM fields. At UMBC we honored this theme by partnering with the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) to feature some of their amazing students participating in technology in the engineering and information technology fields. Three years later, we still find it meaningful and important to continue spotlighting the stories of UMBC’s CWIT women and with the 2015 theme of “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” there’s no better time than now to continue weaving the stories of our campus ITE women into the fabric of women’s history and current day lived experiences. So with that, we are honored to bring you the 3rd Annual CWIT Showcase in honor of Women’s History Month.

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Alejandra Diaz
Computer Science
CWIT  Scholar

Meet Alejandra Diaz! A CWIT Scholar and computer science major.

Meet Alejandra Diaz! A CWIT Scholar and computer science major.

Describe what sparked your interest STEM and the journey to choosing your major.

I’ve been interested in STEM ever since I was little. Funnily enough, the reason why I chose Computer Science as my major is because my dad forced me to take a programming elective in high school during my junior year. I whined about signing up for that class, but ended up loving programming to the point where I wanted to major in it.

Tell us about an internship, research experience or project that you are proud of.

I am really proud of my internship during the spring of my freshmen year at Ponte Technologies. This was my first major internship with a company, and I’ve learned so many things from that job. I refreshed myself in Wireshark and Nessus, and I learned the vulnerabilities a modern car has. You’d be surprised as to how easy it is to hack into a car!

Who are your role models in the engineering or IT field? How have their stories influenced your educational or career goals?

This might sound cliché, but my dad is my biggest role model in the IT field. He has come so far and now has more certifications and clearances than I can count. Seeing how he has progressed helps me outline what I want to accomplish during my career as an IT professional.

Explain your experience as a woman in a STEM major working with other women in STEM. How have you used each other to support your work and persevere in male-dominated fields?

I feel that a sense of community helps if any issue arrives because I’m a woman in STEM. My friends, who are also computer science majors, and I do homework together and study together. We don’t isolate ourselves in our classes, because we are just like the guys in our class – we’re here to learn.

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The Center for Women In Technology (CWIT) is dedicated to increasing the representation of women in the creation of technology in the engineering and information technology fields. CWIT efforts begin with nurturing a strong group of Scholars, grow to building community resources for other women in these majors, extend to fostering a healthy gender climate and ITE pedagogy in College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) departments, and finally expand into outreach efforts to increase interest in technical careers. A successful program for female-friendly engineering and information technology education at UMBC will help make UMBC a destination for women (and men) interested in technical careers and serve as a national model for other universities.

For more information about Women’s History events and happenings, visit the Women’s Center myUMBC group page.

Women’s History Month CWIT Spotlight: Travis Ward

March is Women’s History Month!

Two  years ago Women’s History Month’s national theme was “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” The theme honored generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the STEM fields. At UMBC we honored this theme by partnering with the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) to feature some of their amazing students participating in technology in the engineering and information technology fields. Three years later, we still find it meaningful and important to continue spotlighting the stories of UMBC’s CWIT women and with the 2015 theme of “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” there’s no better time than now to continue weaving the stories of our campus ITE women into the fabric of women’s history and current day lived experiences. So with that, we are honored to bring you the 3rd Annual CWIT Showcase in honor of Women’s History Month.

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Travis Ward 
Computer Engineering
T-Site Scholar

Meet Travis... a T-Site Scholar in the CWIT Community

Meet Travis… a T-Site Scholar in the CWIT Community

Tell us about your experience in the CWIT community.

By being a member of the CWIT community, I have felt a connection to other students in class and socially that I wouldn’t otherwise have. In almost every class I have, there’s someone there that I recognize and can have a rapport with. Almost every group I have hung out or worked with from class has built up from a fellow CWIT member. Recently I have had the honor to be a part of several committees to encourage young women to enter the STEM fields or work beside new members to CWIT. These events have been some of the most satisfying experiences I have had at UMBC.

Based on your experiences, what do you want other men to know about the gender gap in engineering and IT?

Personally I think that most men are already aware of the gender gap in the STEM fields. I know my own major of computer engineering is particularly lacking in gender diversity. This is a frustrating issue as one of the hardest parts of working in this field is coming up with solutions to very difficult problems. Trying to solve these in a vacuum is a near impossibility. I know I can’t do it. The women that I work with have valuable insights and perspective that has helped me through a project more then once. They make just as strong of an addition as any man would. Everybody attacks design problems from a different angle depending on how they learned to problem solve. These unique perspectives are invaluable to a project and should never be overlooked.

How do you feel you are a role model for other men majoring in engineering and IT?

I have had a lot of support from women in my life help me get to where I am today. I think it is only right that I try to be there to offer support to anybody who may struggle here at UMBC. By being a mentor to other member’s of CWIT I hope any of our community members may feel more comfortable working in STEM. By being a member of the CWIT retreat committee, I was given the opportunity to mold many student’s first impression of UMBC. As a part of the Bits and Bytes group, we helped young women better understand how to get into the STEM fields, what kind of challenges they might find, and the kinds of support that are out there. I have tried to make my workplaces and classrooms more tolerant and accepting places. I encourage others to be accepting and nonjudgmental as well. I think this is important not just for encouraging women to participate in STEM, but for anybody.

How has being a man advocating for women in engineering or IT helped you better understand how important the stories of women’s experiences are?

By being in a community dedicated to diversity in the STEM fields I have learned a lot. Everybody has their own story, and with it comes their own take on a host of issues. While many of these are different and unique, I know I have been most struck by how many of them I can relate to. I think it is important to realize that there is far more that connects me with everybody in this community. Not just the men, and not just the computer engineers. All of us have found an interest our area and an aptitude for it. For many of us it was a surprise and wasn’t even something we were looking for. I know that we are all together exploring what these interests mean to us and its important that we have the support improves that journey.

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The Center for Women In Technology (CWIT) is dedicated to increasing the representation of women in the creation of technology in the engineering and information technology fields. CWIT efforts begin with nurturing a strong group of Scholars, grow to building community resources for other women in these majors, extend to fostering a healthy gender climate and ITE pedagogy in College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) departments, and finally expand into outreach efforts to increase interest in technical careers. A successful program for female-friendly engineering and information technology education at UMBC will help make UMBC a destination for women (and men) interested in technical careers and serve as a national model for other universities.

For more information about Women’s History events and happenings, visit the Women’s Center myUMBC group page.

Women’s History Month CWIT Spotlight: Lillie Cimmerer

March is Women’s History Month!

Two  years ago Women’s History Month’s national theme was “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” The theme honored generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the STEM fields. At UMBC we honored this theme by partnering with the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) to feature some of their amazing students participating in technology in the engineering and information technology fields. Three years later, we still find it meaningful and important to continue spotlighting the stories of UMBC’s CWIT women and with the 2015 theme of “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” there’s no better time than now to continue weaving the stories of our campus ITE women into the fabric of women’s history and current day lived experiences. So with that, we are honored to bring you the 3rd Annual CWIT Showcase in honor of Women’s History Month.

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Lillie Cimmerer
Computer Engineering major
CWIT  Scholar

Meet Lillie - a UMBC CWIT Scholar!

Meet Lillie – a UMBC CWIT Scholar!

Describe what sparked your interest STEM and the journey to choosing your major.

My introduction into the STEM world was my parents. They are both in STEM fields, and like most parents, they wanted me to follow in their footsteps. Fortunately for them, my favorite subject in school was math, so getting interested into STEM wasn’t very difficult. In high school I toke several engineering courses through a program called Project Lead the Way. In this program, my favorite course was Digital Electronics. However, UMBC doesn’t offer an undergrad for electrical engineering so I came in undeclared. At my orientation, I was trying to select a specific computer course, however to get in to it, I had to declare myself as computer engineering major

Tell us about an internship, research experience or project that you are proud of.

For Rockets and More, we do various outreach programs. During these outreach events we have anywhere from 20 to 150 middle school students building and launching water bottle rockets using launchers that we, as a club, designed and built ourselves. Not only do we have the students launch rockets, but we also talk to them about the physics behind rocketry and get them thinking about what choices they made to make their rockets optimal. I particularly love these kinds of events, because it’s not just about doing really fun and awesome STEM things, it’s also about sharing my love with others and maybe even inspiring them to be interested in STEM as well.

Who are your role models in the engineering or IT field? How have their stories influenced your educational or career goals?

While I wouldn’t exactly say she is my role model, I definitely would say she has given me the best advice. She is one of my friend’s mom and she received her degree in electrical engineering. After many years working in the industry as an electrical engineer, she learned that she really wasn’t meant to be an engineer. She found that she actually preferred the people aspect, and moved towards working in the finance department. She told me, “If you are going to screw up your life by choosing the wrong degree, do it with an engineering degree.” This is what made me decide I wanted to be an engineer. No matter where life takes me, engineering won’t be just a degree I earn, or a job I acquire, it will be a way of thinking, and a way to solve problems no matter what those problems may be.

Explain your experience as a woman in a STEM major working with other women in STEM. How have you used each other to support your work and persevere in male-dominated fields?

I have never really been concerned about being a woman in the STEM field. While it is not ideal to be one of three girls in a classroom full of students, I have never felt like I didn’t belong, or wasn’t as qualified. Though I have had a couple instances where people have told me they thought what I was doing was too hard, whether that is because I am a woman or just because I am me, it doesn’t matter. Those people don’t bother me, because they are not the ones that matter in life. All our lives there will be someone who doesn’t believe in us, but there is also someone who does. I have found those people both in CWIT and outside of CWIT, both female and male. It’s all about finding those people who bring you up, and forgetting about those who don’t.

"All our lives there will be someone who doesn't believe in us, but there is also someone who does."

“All our lives there will be someone who doesn’t believe in us, but there is also someone who does.” – Lillie

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The Center for Women In Technology (CWIT) is dedicated to increasing the representation of women in the creation of technology in the engineering and information technology fields. CWIT efforts begin with nurturing a strong group of Scholars, grow to building community resources for other women in these majors, extend to fostering a healthy gender climate and ITE pedagogy in College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) departments, and finally expand into outreach efforts to increase interest in technical careers. A successful program for female-friendly engineering and information technology education at UMBC will help make UMBC a destination for women (and men) interested in technical careers and serve as a national model for other universities.

For more information about Women’s History events and happenings, visit the Women’s Center myUMBC group page.

Women’s History Month CWIT Spotlight: Claudette Dupont

March is Women’s History Month!

Two  years ago Women’s History Month’s national theme was “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” The theme honored generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the STEM fields. At UMBC we honored this theme by partnering with the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) to feature some of their amazing students participating in technology in the engineering and information technology fields. Three years later, we still find it meaningful and important to continue spotlighting the stories of UMBC’s CWIT women and with the 2015 theme of “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” there’s no better time than now to continue weaving the stories of our campus ITE women into the fabric of women’s history and current day lived experiences. So with that, we are honored to bring you the 3rd Annual CWIT Showcase in honor of Women’s History Month.

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Claudette Dupont
Mechanical Engineering
CWIT T-Site Scholar

Meet Claudette!

Meet Claudette!

Describe what sparked your interest STEM and the journey to choosing your major.

After graduating from high school in 2003, I pursued a career in the sport of showing dogs in American Kennel Club dog shows. I was nationally ranked in Junior Handling and placed in big-ticket events including The Westminster Kennel Club show. For over ten years, I worked for some of the most well-known professional dog handlers in the country, but in the summer of 2009 I injured myself and decided I needed a more secure career. Dog showing will always be my hobby, but I wanted to go to community college to get a business degree so I could manage my own dog-boarding kennel.

So how did I go from dog handler to mechanical engineer?

Claudette during her dog show days.

Claudette during her dog show days.

While I was pursuing my Business Administration Degree at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) I participated in seminars on renewable energy sources. Through these seminars, I met a project engineer from Constellation Energy group, and after listening to his seminar I asked him how he got his job – I thought it was fascinating. He explained that he had a Mechanical engineering degree and a MBA and he encouraged me to switch majors; in the same week I applied for an engineering scholars program for women and minorities at AACC. This program helped me explore engineering and introduced me to UMBC, where I was later accepted into the Center for Women in Technology T-SITE scholars program for transfer students. I have been very fortunate to have met such a great group of scholars and mentors.

Tell us about an internship, research experience or project that you are proud of.

I worked as an engineering assistant and drafter for Siemens Building Technologies in Beltsville Maryland for over 2 years. I recently accepted an internship offer for this summer at Johnson, Miriam and Thompson, a multi-disciplined architectural/engineering employee owned company.

Who are your role models in the engineering or IT field? How have their stories influenced your educational or career goals?

I was inspired by William Kamkwamba when I read his book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope. He was an impressive boy who built a windmill to power a few electrical appliances in his family’s house in Masitala using blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrapyard. I was inspired because he was someone who had little resources but wanted to learn and make a change in his life for the positive, which brings me to my own personal difficulties – specifically, overcoming learning challenges. I was in special education in grade school and never wanted to go to college because I thought it was unattainable. However, with the help of the Khan Academy from Salman Khan I was able to learn and tackle the math and science needed to succeed in engineering. Salman Khan, who earned three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a MBA from Harvard Business School, has made learning attainable for those who just need a good teacher.

Explain your experience as a woman in a STEM major working with other women in STEM. How have you used each other to support your work and persevere in male-dominated fields?

Unfortunately, women in engineering in the HVAC field are a rarity, and I had to find support from women in the office who were not in STEM positions. Diversity in STEM fields is extremely important and I would like to mentor the next generation of young women in STEM, and I recommend looking for employers that embrace diversity.

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The Center for Women In Technology (CWIT) is dedicated to increasing the representation of women in the creation of technology in the engineering and information technology fields. CWIT efforts begin with nurturing a strong group of Scholars, grow to building community resources for other women in these majors, extend to fostering a healthy gender climate and ITE pedagogy in College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) departments, and finally expand into outreach efforts to increase interest in technical careers. A successful program for female-friendly engineering and information technology education at UMBC will help make UMBC a destination for women (and men) interested in technical careers and serve as a national model for other universities.

For more information about Women’s History events and happenings, visit the Women’s Center myUMBC group page.