On October 9-10, 2003, ESD participated in the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) annual conference in Birmingham, Alabama. This activity was part of an ongoing outreach program designed to promote the new paradigm of interdisciplinary engineering education and create awareness of ESD’s academic programs: the ESD PhD and SM; Leaders for Manufacturing (LFM); the Master of Engineering in Logistics (MLOG); System Design and Management (SDM); and the Technology and Policy Program (TPP).
This outreach was initiated by LFM-SDM three years ago when representatives from those programs, along with TPP, attended their first national SWE conference. LFM has subsequently noticed an increase of women in recent cohorts, some of whom learned about LFM while attending SWE conferences.
"ESD is interested in becoming the leading engineering academic unit in the country where interdisciplinary work is undertaken. A key part of that vision is attracting the leadership talent from the full diversity of engineers who want to go to graduate school," said ESD Co-director Daniel Hastings.
At SWE 2003, ESD PhD candidate Heidi Davidz and ESD Communications Director Lois Slavin represented the Division. Heidi gave a well-attended presentation entitled "MIT’s Engineering Systems Division: Educating Engineers as Leaders and Change Agents." Audience members ranged from women in early-mid career to students in high school, undergrad and graduate schools. LFM ’05 Beven Beverich, who traveled to SWE from her internship in Detroit to help staff GM’s exhibit, attended this presentation and shared her thoughts about the LFM program.
Heidi also attended a forum on creating a culture that is conducive to diversity – specifically in supporting young women faculty in both having families and pursuing tenure. She has shared her learnings with the LFM-SDM Diversity Committee, who will use it to create a culture that supports diverse students as well.
In addition, ESD staged an exhibit showcasing all of the ESD academic programs that was part of SWE’s two-day career and graduate school fair.
"We got terrific feedback about ESD’s presentation, exhibit, and message," said Lois. "Several women told us they were not aware of the expanding role of engineers or the interdisciplinary programs at MIT and other academic institutions that address this need. Many were very excited about these new possibilities."
ESD also attends the annual conferences of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers.