The Mechanical Engineering department at Iowa State University started the ‘Women in Mechanical Engineering’ (WiME) program 3 years ago. WiME is a student run, faculty moderated, and department funded program with a three pronged approach to enhance women participation in mechanical engineering – retention, outreach, and recruitment. WiME organizes various social and professional development activities that are intended to
- Provide a forum for women to socially interact with faculty and their peers;
- Provide students with women role models in engineering and academic professionals thereby helping to develop and sustain a network of professional colleagues and;
- Leverage the interests of the WiME group to undertake outreach to local K-12 schools, thus creating a sustainable group.
Several specific events and activities include (a) the “Chat-with-ME” series where students are provided an opportunity to interact with a successful women mechanical engineer in a very informal setting; (b) social events like picnics, bowling evenings and ‘Ice-cream socials’ where the women students can interact with each other and ME faculty; (c) professional development events like mock interview and interview walk-up sessions before career fairs and more recently; (d) “efficient energy use” outreach sessions to local middle schools in collaboration with industrial partners. Students have pointed to the social interaction opportunities with their peers and with faculty as a major attraction of the program. The department has also set up WiME scholarships to prospective high school students to enhance recruitment and also employs personalized phone calls from the department chair to all women applicants to highlight the program. Since the launch of the WiME program the women enrollment in the ME program has increased from 76 to 128 women (7.0% to 10%).
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