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2013 WIE DREAM Conference Inspires High School Students' Passion for Engineering

2013 WIE DREAM Conference Inspires High School Students' Passion for Engineering


High school girls from across the region gathered at the University of Maryland on February 23, 2013 for the Women in Engineering (WIE) Program’s 5th annual DREAM (Developing Revolutionary Engineers and Mentors) Conference to explore their passion for engineering and innovation. Despite the clouds in the sky that day, there is no doubt that the future looks bright for the 600 high school participants and their families who attended the event.

"Diversity and the inclusion of women are critical to the field of engineering," explained Dr. Paige Smith, Director of WIE. "There is a strong connection between innovation and diversity. Diversity brings creativity and creativity drives innovation."

Smith went on to share the exciting news that, at the time of the conference, an unprecedented 33 percent of the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s fall 2013 admitted engineering undergraduates are women.

Throughout the day, participants rotated through a series of highly interactive discussions, demonstrations, and an information fair that showcased the wonderful innovations, applications and opportunities that engineering offers. The conference encouraged participants to be inquisitive, to hone problem-solving skills and to invent solutions for real-world problems.

For many participants, the WIE DREAM Conference was a chance to catch a glimpse of life as a college engineering student. Panels led by UMD faculty, staff and current students on topics such as engineering abroad, the Gamera Project and cybersecurity, to name a few, left participants feeling excited about opportunities on the horizon. The event also featured forums with professional women engineers from a variety of leading organizations like BAE Systems and NASA, who explained the amazing work that they do and encouraged students to reach for their dream jobs.

The event featured a keynote address by Denise Russell Fleming, Vice President of Business Technology & Transformation at BAE Systems. Fleming shared the inspirational story of her path to success, stressing that the best path may not always be a straight line. Fleming encouraged students to have a strong center, to be open to new possibilities and to embrace changes in direction. And, most importantly, to "enjoy the ride!"

Event sponsors were vital to making the conference possible and included BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Bechtel Corporation, Clark Construction, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the National Security Agency, Central Maryland Chapter of Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association, and IEEE Women in Engineering Affinity Group. In addition, 162 students, professionals, faculty, staff and community members volunteered their time to leave a lasting impression on hundreds of future engineers.  

"I couldn’t be happier with today’s events," concluded Bria McElroy, Assistant Director of WIE. "We aim to inspire these young women, and I feel that’s exactly what we’ve accomplished together."

February 25, 2013


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"Diversity and the inclusion of women are critical to the field of engineering. There is a strong connection between innovation and diversity. Diversity brings creativity and creativity drives innovation."

Dr. Paige Smith, Director of Women in Engineering (WIE).



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