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SPARK Night for Society of Women Engineers and the College of Engineering

Last night, in the Donna E. Shalala Student Center West Ballroom, more than 20 alumnae and CoE friends joined 47 incoming freshmen and transfer women in engineering at the Fifth Annual SPARK Night. Hosted by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the College of Engineering, new students to the College of Engineering had the opportunity to meet faculty members, peer mentors and alumnae and hear about their experiences, from the classroom to the workplace.

“As an undergraduate and graduate student in Engineering in the late 80’s and early 90’s, there were very few female professors in Engineering,” said Derin Ural, associate dean for student affairs and professor in practice with the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. “Today, students are fortunate to have female faculty members serving as professors in the classroom, as well as mentors in extracurricular activities. Please reach out to us.”

SPARK Night developed out of a need to create a culture of belonging at the College of Engineering for women engineers. Too many young women were transferring out of the College to other schools and colleges. Junior mechanical engineer Swati Narasimhan, SWE vice president, came away feeling that they had made a difference. “Many students came up to us e-board members after the event to tell us how inspired they were; that they were doubting their choice of engineering, but speaking to everyone made them feel so included and completely changed their perspective.”

The program has grown to include alumnae participation. Last year, seven alumnae attended. This year, that number more than tripled. Alumna Roberta Goode, BS ’86, MSBE ’92, stressed that “it’s essential for those of us who’ve walked the path to show the way to the next generation.” The College of Engineering has plans to support more opportunities for alumni to meaningfully engage with current students.

SWE welcomes support from alumnae in order to deliver this and other programs for women in engineering. During the year, the group hosts elementary-aged girls from local Girl Scout troops and high school students during Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, held annually during Engineers Week in February. For more information, contact Catarina Castruccio-Prince, assistant development director, by e-mail or phone (305) 284-9762.

The University of Miami Student Chapter of Society of Women Engineers seeks to motivate women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders in their communities and the world, as well as to promote the betterment and welfare of female engineering students and those who support their cause. Nationally, the Society of Women Engineers was founded in 1950 with the vision of being a key in the success of women in engineering and technology.

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