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Board 135: Reflecting on 20 Years of the Attracting Women into Engineering (AWE) Workshop

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Mahaa Mayeesha Ahmed Rowan University

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Mahaa Ahmed is currently a senior at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ studying Biological Sciences and Philosophy and Religion Studies with a minor in Dance. She is a student worker in the Outreach Office of the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering and helps coordinate K-12 STEM programs during the academic year as well as STEM camps during the summer. She will be pursuing a MS in Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health upon graduation.

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Melanie Basantis Rowan University

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Ms. Melanie Basantis (Director, Engineering Outreach Office) earned her MBA from Widener University and dual degrees in Industrial Engineering and Business Management from The Pennsylvania State University. Ms. Basantis spent 15 years in industry at the Boeing Company working as an Engineer on projects related to defense aircraft including the V-22 Osprey and CH-46 and CH-47 tandem rotor helicopters along with being a Composite Manger on the 757 and 767 commercial aircraft programs. Ms. Basantis has experience in the development and implementation of new and innovative technologies in the manufacturing processes associated with revolutionary, new assembly methods and concepts for aircraft application. She is experienced in the utilization of lean manufacturing, total quality management, and ISO concepts and specifications in the implementation of these processes. As Engineering Outreach Director, Ms. Basantis collaborates with industry on initiatives that include, but not limited to professionalism, internship experience, job placement, student development and enrichment, as well as concentrated faculty research. Ms. Basantis provides leadership to The College of Engineering’s STEM initiatives and has done so for the past 10 years. Middle and High school camps and field experiences are held under her guidance and expertise.

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Kauser Jahan Rowan University

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Kauser Jahan, is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rowan University. She received her B.S.C.E. from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, an MSCE from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Her passion as an educator and mentor has been recognized by many professional organizations over the years. She is the recipient of the Gloucester County Women of Achievement Award, Lindback Foundation Teaching Award, the NJ ASCE Educator of the Year award, the Gary J. Hunter Excellence in Mentoring Award, the ASEE Environmental Engineering Division Meritorious Service Award, the ASEE Women in Engineering Division Sharon A. Keillor Award and the WEPAN Women in Engineering Initiative Award. She has been instrumental in establishing the Attracting Women into Engineering, the Engineers on Wheels and Engineering Clinics for Teachers programs at Rowan University. She has served as the Institutional Representative and Advisory Board Chair for the Women's Professional Network at Rowan University for six years and currently is an advisory board member of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Council on Education (ACE) Office of Women in Higher Education (OWHE). She received a Fulbright award in 2015.

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Women have become increasingly visible in business, health professions, and law, yet they are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s 2017 Women in STEM Update, women constituted 47% of all U.S. jobs in 2015 but held only 24% of STEM jobs. The gender disparity in STEM is caused in part by the lack of exposure girls have to STEM education during formative K-8 years as well as the lack of women role models present in these fields. To encourage more girls in STEM, the Attracting Women into Engineering (AWE) Workshop was founded in 1998. The AWE Workshop is a summer program that strives to introduce middle school girls to engineering careers via one-day sessions. Participants have the opportunity to interact with women faculty members and undergraduate/graduate students during hands-on engineering experiments while also learning about various engineering disciplines. Our mission is to negate preconceived stereotypes about engineering, to cultivate girls’ interest in STEM, to expose girls to the diverse career paths that engineers can pursue, and to foster an environment of intellectual growth, self-esteem, and empowerment. The workshop celebrated its twentieth anniversary in summer 2018. Here, a reflection on the lessons learned from running the program for the past 20 years is provided. The AWE Workshop is impactful in young girls’ exploration of not only engineering but also other STEM fields.  

Ahmed, M. M., & Basantis, M., & Jahan, K. (2019, June), Board 135: Reflecting on 20 Years of the Attracting Women into Engineering (AWE) Workshop Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32244

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