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CBE Women honored with WEPAN award

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

CBE Women members Jessica Akemi Cimada da Silva, Lakshmi Nathan, and Tyler Moeller with the Women in Engineering Initiative Award

Cornell Engineering’s CBE Women group was recently recognized for their Women's Outreach in Materials, Energy and Nanobiotechnology (WOMEN) event, hosted each spring at the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) at Cornell. The Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) presented the program with its Women in Engineering Initiative Award June 13 at the WEPAN 2017 Change Leader Forum in Westminster, Colorado.

WEPAN awards “honor key individuals, programs, and organizations for accomplishments that underscore WEPAN's mission. Honorees demonstrate extraordinary service, significant achievement, model programs and exemplary work environments that promote a culture of inclusion and the success of women in engineering.”

The WOMEN event at Cornell brings high school girls from rural school districts in the Finger Lakes region of New York state to campus on a Saturday and provides them and their parents activities and information about some of the possibilities open if they decide to pursue college-level study in a STEM field.

The event has been run at Cornell since 2010 and was the brainchild of Jennifer Schaefer Ph.D. ’14 and Alexandra Corona M.Eng. ‘10, who were both CBE students. “I grew up in a rural community in Upstate New York,” says Schaefer, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame. “I thought that the WOMEN event would be an opportunity for CBE to connect with the surrounding smaller school districts and provide high school girls and their parents information about career options and college preparation that may not otherwise be available to them.”

Susan Daniel, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the Smith School, has been involved in the WOMEN event since its inception. “Many young girls are still not sure what a technical career entails and some do not have any role models to show them, especially those from rural communities,” says Daniel. “And because many parents also don't know what these careers involve, we felt it was important to involve them.”

The Awards Committee at WEPAN recognized the WOMEN event for its effectiveness and because it can serve as a model for other institutions that would like to do something similar. Lakshmi Nathan, Ph.D. student and president of the CBE Graduate Women's Group, along with Tyler Moeller and Jessica Akemi Cimada da Silva (also Ph.D. students) prepared the submission. Nathan accepted the award on behalf of the program. 

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