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Penn State Engineering Mentoring for Internship Excellence (EMIX): "Generating Strategic Corporate Partnerships to Catalyze Professional Success for Women Engineers"

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2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Corporate Engagement Track - Technical Session V

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Corporate Engagement

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Paper Authors


Cheryl L. Knobloch Pennsylvania State University

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Cheryl Knobloch is a ceramic engineer by academic preparation and early technical career. As a higher education professional for more than 20 years, she initiated her Penn State engineering research role in 1997; her career focus shifted in 2002 through her appointment as director of Penn State Women in Engineering Program. Cheryl directs all aspects of WEP and innovatively steers precollege outreach, undergraduate retention for 1,700+ women, and professional development for graduate students and alumnae. She has engaged in research investigating the effect of mentoring and retention initiatives on the persistence of women in engineering. A seasoned educator, Cheryl teaches multiple courses, including two gender-balanced, mechanical engineering design classes. She serves as adviser to the nationally award-winning SWE student chapter and has been an active WEPAN member since 2002. Most recently, Cheryl’s contributions have been recognized as recipient of the Penn State Achieving Woman Award (2018), Zonta Status of Women Award (2017), and Penn State Commission for Women Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award (2013.)

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Penn State Engineering Mentoring for Internship Excellence (EMIX) initiative features an innovative, new model for collaboration between industry and academia yielding dynamic, multifaceted outcomes and serving multiple stakeholders. Corporate partners strategically generate a pathway for diverse technical talent and optimize likelihood for retention and advancement. Undergraduate students engage in dynamic experiential learning complemented by semester-long professional development.

The overarching EMIX goal is to strategically optimize opportunities for industry partners to recruit, retain and advance diverse technical talent. EMIX initiative is designed to prepare women and underrepresented undergraduate interns for seamless transition to the engineering workplace. Professional development, sponsor research, and industry site visits empower students to optimize measurable impact throughout the internship, and to compete for challenging professional roles and projects.

Penn State Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion has engaged over 200 undergraduates with 16 different sponsors utilizing this powerful model. EMIX interns distinguish themselves in the engineering workplace as confident, competitive professionals empowered by soft skills that strategically complement academic preparation. EMIX intern cohorts are overwhelmingly characterized as superior, top performers. Interns excel in technical internships and competitively populate the sponsor workforce with diverse technical talent more likely to excel, to advance, and to be retained.

This paper will describe essential exportable elements in the successful Penn State EMIX model including practitioner timeline, sponsorship development, intern search, applicant screening, professional development, and sponsor site visit. Best practices and lessons learned will be discussed. Finally, Penn State EMIX outcomes and qualitative data will be shared.

Knobloch, C. L. (2018, April), Penn State Engineering Mentoring for Internship Excellence (EMIX): "Generating Strategic Corporate Partnerships to Catalyze Professional Success for Women Engineers" Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia.

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