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August/September 2010

Diversity/Careers August/September 2010 Issue




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Summer of innovation: NASA kicks off exciting new STEM initiative

Astronaut José M. Hernandez worked (and enjoyed lunch with) a lawn-full of entranced middle school students on a nice day in California this summer.Pasadena, CA NASA's new Summer of Innovation program engaged thousands of middle school students in STEM activities this past summer to help combat "summer slide," when students tend to forget the skills they acquired during the school year.

Some 250 middle school students from the Los Angeles area participated in kickoff festivities at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL, Pasadena, CA), managed for NASA by CalTech. The students interacted with astronauts, NASA scientists and engineers, participated in hands-on educational activities and visited the facility where the next Mars rover is being built.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden shares the kids’ excitement.NASA administrator Charles Bolden says, "It's wonderful to feel the excitement generated by these young people as they experience first-hand what fascinating and challenging opportunities exist for students who follow STEM career paths. I hope that getting these students involved in NASA's missions and programs now may pave the way for a new generation of scientists and engineers, so critically important to our nation's future."

The program is a cornerstone of the Educate to Innovate campaign announced by President Obama last November. To learn more about it visit www.nasa.gov/soi.


Kaitz foundation diversity week

Washington, DC Every year the Walter Kaitz Foundation sponsors a week devoted to diversity in the cable industry. This year it will be September 13-16.

Highlights include a fundraising dinner honoring companies for their diversity efforts, workshops and the networking opportunities they provide. Sponsors include Scripps Networks, Comcast and Turner Broadcasting.

For more information on the event check out www.walterkaitz.org/web/dinner2010.


CSULA uses HP grant to create a new center to stimulate STEM learning

Teaching assistant Amy Wilson helps a student program a circuit board as a CSULA EE class learns to use new HP convertible tablet laptop computers.Los Angeles, CA California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) was one of ten two- and four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. to receive 2009 HP Innovations in Education grants. The grants support efforts to help more students get undergraduate degrees in engineering, CS, IS and IT. CSULA used its share of the funds to create the HP Collaborative Learning Center (HPCLC) for active student-centered learning.

The CLC supports cross-disciplinary design and research experience for undergrads and develops enjoyable and stimulating engineering activities for export to high school and middle school classrooms. "During the 2009-2010 school year," professor Jianyu Dong notes, "eight pilot courses from freshman to senior level, serving more than 250 students, were revised to include the use of tablet-PC-based teaching."

Through the support of the HPCLC, Dong hopes to develop leaders to help change the way engineering is taught and "create a friendly, supportive and involved learning community to help our students succeed for years to come."

CSULA project participants include Keith Moo-Young, dean of the college of engineering, computer science and technology; Peter Quan, VP and chief technology officer; Nancy Warter-Perez, professor of electrical and computer engineering; Deborah Won, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; Huiping Guo, assistant professor of computer science; Jiang Guo, associate professor of computer science; and Mauricio Castillo, assistant professor of technology education.

Worldwide, HP invested more than $20 million in mobile technology and professional development as part of its global 2009 HP Innovations in Education grant initiative.


NASA scientist Dr Claire Parkinson elected to American Philosophical Society

Greenbelt, MD Dr Claire L. Parkinson, a climate scientist at NASA Goddard, is one of thirty-eight new members elected into the American Philosophical Society (APS).

The APS, which was founded by Benjamin Franklin, is the oldest learned society in America and boasts many famous notables including Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela and Thomas Jefferson. Aiming to "promote useful knowledge," the APS is made up of top scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, organized into five classes. Parkinson has earned her spot in class 1, mathematical and physical sciences. Other classes include biological sciences, social sciences, humanities and the arts.

Parkinson has been a scientist at Goddard since 1978 and has worked extensively using satellite data to reveal and quantify the decreases in the Arctic sea ice cover over the past three decades, and less dramatic but still important changes in the Antarctic sea ice cover over the same period. She's also project scientist for the Aqua satellite mission and has written books about the history of science, satellite observations, and current climate change issues.


IEEE-USA salary survey is ready

Washington, DC Median income for electrotechnology and IT pros showed a respectable percentage increase between 2007 and 2008, according to the latest IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefit Survey.

Median incomes for U.S. IEEE members working fulltime in their primary area of technical competence (PATC) rose from $110,610 in the 2007 tax year to $116,000 in 2008. The 4.9 percent increase more than doubled the 2.4 percent rise from the previous survey.

Women, at only 6 percent of all members working fulltime in their PATC, continue to trail men in primary income. Median 2008 primary income is highest among Asian/Pacific Islanders, followed by non-Hispanic whites. In contrast, the relatively small number of Hispanics and non-Hispanic African Americans report median incomes roughly $10,000 below the grand median.

The five largest job specialties, in descending order, were computers, energy and power engineering, circuits and devices, communications technology and systems and control.

The IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefit Survey, 2009 Edition, is available for purchase at www.ieeeusa.org/communications/ebooks.


High school kids work in buoyancy

A high-school participant tests her craft.College Park, MD This summer, ten Washington, DC area high school students participated in a daylong university-level workshop on feedback control and its application to their everyday lives. The day included a session at the neutral buoyancy research facility (NBRF), the only one of its kind on a college campus, at the University of Maryland's Clark School of Engineering.

The students learned about Clark's department of aerospace engineering; they designed and built an underwater vehicle and tested it at the NBRF. The workshop was a Leadership Enhancement, Application and Design academy run by the Clark School's Women in Engineering Program.


Microsoft's Digigirlz program completes ten years of success

These Digigirlz, shown here with their mentor, at left, are getting a good start toward meaningful IT careers through Microsoft’s technology program.Redmond, WA Microsoft's Digigirlz technology program is celebrating ten years of exposing high school girls to the wonders of IT careers. It was back in 2001 that Microsoft began inviting interested young women to events like Digigirlz Day and the Digigirlz High-Tech Camp. These events are still going on, with students hearing from guest speakers, interacting one-on-one with Microsoft tech pros, job-shadowing employees with interests like their own and participating in hands-on tech courses.

The courses, including Visual Basic and HTML, help the girls make a connection with real-world uses for technology and math and introduce them to computer skills like product design, graphic design and the all-important resume building.

Of particular value is the one-on-one mentoring that Microsoft senior level staffers offer girls in the program. It improves their educational experiences, teaches effective use of technology, and helps them shape their career goals.

By the end of 2010 more than 13,200 students will have attended the Microsoft Digigirlz technology programs. Read more about the program at www.microsoft.com; site-search on digigirlz.


Student engineers work on water problems

Alexandria, VA The Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) holds its annual TEAMS competition to give high school students a chance to solve real-world engineering problems. The Taft School (Watertown, CT) took the 2010 top national honor at the 11/12th grade level, and students from the Harker School (San Jose, CA) were named the national grade 9/10 winners.

The 2010 challenge used water to show how environmental, civil and mechanical engineers are involved in the protection and delivery of the world's water supply. TEAMS students were asked to assess the effectiveness of ceramic pot filters (developed by geological, environmental and ceramic engineers) in disinfecting water; analyze and create desalination processes to remove salt and other impurities from otherwise undrinkable water sources; produce ultrapure water, which is essential in areas like pharmaceutical manufacturing and electric power generation; and design technologies that deal with the detrimental effects that land development projects have on communities' watersheds.

Linda Snow-Solum, a senior director at Rockwell Collins and president of the JETS board of directors, says, "With this year's TEAMS competition, the participating students gained a unique understanding of the humanitarian aspects of engineering and how different types of engineers from various disciplines are working to solve some of society's most critical problems. Arguably, nothing is more important to life than access to clean water."

More than half the JETS participants are from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in engineering and technology fields, including one-third who are female. For more information, see www.jets.org.


ORAU awards research grants

Fatemeh Hassanipour of the ME department at the University of Texas at Dallas is one of thirty-two recipients of ORAU awards this year.Oak Ridge, TN For the twentieth year, ORAU presented its Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement awards. These are research grants made to junior faculty at sponsoring institutions of the ORAU consortium. The awards recognize work in any of five science and technology disciplines: engineering or applied science; life sciences; math and computer science; physical sciences; and policy, management or education.

The thirty-two recipients are each in the first two years of a tenure-track position. They receive seed money for the 2010-2011 academic year to enhance their research during the early stages of their careers. Each recipient's institution is pledged to match the ORAU award.

The recipients include Jizhou Song, mechanical and aerospace engineering department, University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL); Fatemeh Hassanipour, department of mechanical engineering, University of Texas at Dallas; and Guru Prasadh Venkataramani, high performance computing lab, George Washington University (Washington, DC).

ORAU plans to offer the awards program again for the 2011-2012 academic year. Faculty members at ORAU-sponsoring institutions who are within two years of their initial tenure-track appointments as assistant professors are eligible to apply; the deadline is February 4, 2011. For more information on fellowships, awards and grants offered by ORAU, visit www.orau.org/consortium/programs.


UMBC president receives honorary Harvard degree

Freeman A. Hrabowski III has spent much of his career in education helping minority students succeed in STEM areas.Cambridge, MA Freeman A Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC, Baltimore, MD), received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Harvard University this spring.

Much of Hrabowski's career in education has been spent helping minorities succeed in science, technology, engineering and math. He was associate dean of graduate studies and associate professor of statistics and research at Alabama A&M University from 1976 to 1977, a math professor at Coppin State College in Baltimore, MD for ten years, and served as dean of arts and sciences there from 1977 to 1981. He was the school's VP for academic affairs from 1981 to 1987.

Hrabowski went to the UMBC as vice provost in 1987, and was appointed president in 1993. He graduated from Hampton Institute at nineteen with highest honors in math. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign he received his MA in math and four years later his PhD in higher education administration/statistics.


UK ChE students set for India exchange

London, England The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has teamed up with the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers (IIChE) to give students the chance to participate in a free exchange program. Four IChemE student members will spend a week in India during September and four Indian students will visit the UK for a week in November. The trips will include site visits, attending a national chemical engineering conference or event and cultural excursions.

Neil Atkinson, IChemE director of international development, says the exchange will support the students professionally: "Today's young chemical engineers need to understand the global nature of the process industries," he explains. "Employers will want their new recruits to appreciate the challenges of working for diverse, multi-site companies and the eight students on this exchange program will get a direct chance to experience this."

IChemE promotes competence and a commitment to best practice, advances the discipline for the benefit of society, encourages young people in science and engineering and supports the professional development of its members. For more information, visit www.icheme.org


U Tenn Knoxville names new diversity director

Travis Griffin is the new director of the engineering diversity programs office at U Tennessee.Knoxville, TN Travis Griffin is the new director of the engineering diversity programs office at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville College of Engineering.

Griffin comes to UT Knoxville from Oklahoma State University (OSU, Stillwater, OK) where he was coordinator for the multicultural engineering program. At OSU Griffin focused on recruiting, advising and retaining students for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology. He also developed, implemented and managed special programs targeted to underrepresented groups and a multicultural awareness program for the college. Before that he was outreach coordinator for the college of science and technology at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM, Hattiesburg, MS).

Griffin has a 2004 BS in software engineering from Mississippi State University. His 2005 masters in higher education is from USM.


WEPAN announces board appointments

Sheila Edwards-Lange.Denver, CO Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) has placed new candidates in six board positions. The organization works to transform culture in engineering higher education to open the field to women.

The new 2010-2011 WEPAN officers and directors are: president, Sheila Edwards-Lange, University of Washington; president-elect; Glenda La Rue, Ohio State University; secretary, Yolanda Chiles, DuPont; director of professional development, Jenna Carpenter, Louisiana Tech University; director of diversity advancement, DiOnetta Jones, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; faculty member at large, (Mr) Klod Kokini - Purdue University; women in engineering member at large, Judy Cordes, Michigan State University.



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