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Women Advancing in Technology

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division: Strategies Beyond the Classroom

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1744.1 - 26.1744.20



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Paper Authors


Evelyn R. Sowells North Carolina A&T State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Evelyn R. Sowells earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University’s College of Engineering. She also holds a M.S. and B.S in Computer Science with a concentration in software engineering from the same university. Her primary research interests are in the areas of low-power high performance digital systems design, asynchronous design, self-timed digital system design and STEM education. As a result of her work, she has numerous peer reviewed journal and conference publications. Evelyn is not only outstanding in teaching and research, but also in service. She recently received the 2013 Chair’s Award for Outstanding Service in the Department of Computer System Technology.

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Nina Exner North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

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Nina Exner is a research librarian at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and a doctoral pre-candidate in information science at UNC-CH. Her research and publishing history centers around researcher emergence, practitioner-researcher information needs, and mentoring.

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Sherry F. Abernathy North Carolina A&T State University


Rajeev K. Agrawal North Carolina A&T State University

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Dr. Rajeev Agrawal has been teaching in the Department of Computer Systems Technology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT), Greensboro, North Carolina for last five years. His current research focuses on Big data Analytics, Cloud Computing, and Content-based Image Retrieval. He received the best paper award for his paper on Image Clustering Using Multimodal Keywords in the International Conference on Semantics and Digital Media Technology, Athens, Greece. He has published more than 40 referred journal and conference papers and 4 book chapters. He has been project manager and a member of several research and industrial grants. Dr. Agrawal actively serves as committee member and reviewer for conferences and journals in his area of research. He is a member of ACM, ASEE and IEEE.

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Brenda S. Faison Ph.D. North Carolina A&T State University

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Biography: Brenda S. Faison, Ph.D.
Born in North Carolina, Dr. Brenda S. Faison is Chief Creative Officer of Brenda Faison and Associates, LLC; and iDesignbase, LLC. She studied Visual Communication in North Carolina Central University's Department of Art in Durham, receiving her B.A. degree in 1980. She obtained her master's degree in 1984 from North Carolina State University's College of Design at Raleigh, focusing in the area of Visual Design. In 1995, she earned her Ph.D. focusing in Computer Graphics in the Arts and Design, studying at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), through the Department of Art Education at The Ohio State University at Columbus.

Dr. Faison views design as a purposeful, systematic, and creative activity saying, “design is purposeful in that designers give form to products and visual communications, and satisfy the functional, psychological, and aesthetic needs of end users. It is systematic, in that it involves the analysis of problems in our physical environment, and the transformation of findings into appropriate and usable solutions. Design is also creative, in that designers must have the expertise to create compelling visual forms for products, spaces, and new media–and to advance the evolution of new technologies in the design.”

Within the design profession, Dr. Faison worked as an Associate Graphic Designer for several years with IBM Corporation in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; and Manassas, Virginia. She started her own design firm, Designbase Associates, Inc., which she operated for seven years near Research Triangle Park, NC, before returning to doctoral studies. Among her clients at Designbase were companies such as GTE, GlaxoSmithCline, IBM Corporation, NorTel, U.S. Army Research Office, and Duke University, to name a few. The firm also designed, and produced a series of art and social commentary posters, which were marketed to individuals, schools, corporations, and military bases, as well as state and federal agencies.

In 1991, Dr. Faison, wrote, designed, produced and marketed an AIDS prevention publication entitled The AIDS Handbook: A Complete Guide to Education and Awareness, which was edited by Dr. Laila Mustafa of the World Health Organization. This handbook received favorable reviews from The Library Journal, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Company, etc. It was successfully marketed to corporate employee assistance programs, libraries, individuals, wholesalers and distributors. She also wrote the book, New Media Careers for Artists and Designers in 2003. In 2007, Dr. Faison was presented the Exemplary Teaching and Service Award by North Carolina Central University’s College of Liberal Studies. She has taught graphic design and new media at universities in Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina, and has seven years of academic management experience in higher education.

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Women Advancing in TechnologyIncreasing the pool of qualified workers, particularly more women and underrepresentedminorities (URM), in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and mathematics (STEM) hasbecome one of the nation’s key priorities, as those professions are the backbone of innovation,and become more important in our country’s economic future. According US Bureau of LaborStatistics, only 6 percent of U.S. workers are employed in the STEM fields, and they areresponsible for more than half of our sustained economic expansion. Statistics have also shownthat over the last decade, STEM jobs grew three times faster than non-STEM positions. Thedemand for STEM professions is projected to continue climbing in the next 10 years; however,recruiting for skilled people poses a challenge for many companies, with an even greater one forminority candidates. A recent study by Boyer “Engineering by the Numbers” found that womenonly earned 18.4% of engineering degrees in the U.S. awarded in 2010, but make up 50% of thepopulation. This discrepancy is unacceptable, and it makes us rethink the way we approach thedevelopment of future workers’ skills. Recognizing the need for greater numbers of minorities,particularly women, which pursue degrees in STEM disciplines, the School of XXXXXXX haslaunched a strategic initiative for several programs that work in tandem to improve mentoring,recruitment and retention for these underrepresented populations and when coordinated, willcreate a pipeline that will move students from high school, to undergraduate school, then to theworkforce.To address the national pressing need for diverse STEM workforce, the strategic initiative hasincreased enrollment, retention and degrees awarded from 2011 – 2013 to female students in thefield of technology by providing enrichment experiences for high school students andundergraduate students at XXXXXXX School of XXXXXXXX. We utilize existing programssuch as Extreme IT Day where over 350 high school students come from all over the state for acareer fair, workshops and info session led by company representative from our industryadvisory board, Technology Week which is a school wide effort that showcases our latestgraduate and undergraduate research, Women in Technology Symposium where a top levelfemale executive panel mentor and advise female students from the university as well as visinglocal STEM high school for girls, and female student researchers gave oral poster presentation.In addition to keeping students engaged and motived in the technology field, a series ofworkshops, mentoring, and professional development seminars were also provided. Specifically,the main goal is to increase the number of women and minority students who graduate with atechnology degree in Applied Engineering Technology, Information Technology, ConstructionManagement, Electronics Technology, Geomatics, Graphics Communication Systems,Motorsports Technology, and Occupational Safety and Health was accomplished.Since XXXXXXXXXXXX University is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU),the majority of its students are considered URM. XXXXXXXXX STEM Early College HighSchool is also located on the first floor of The School of XXXXXXXXXXX. These elementscoupled with the fact that only 23% of the School of XXXXXXXXX students are female givesus a unique position to capitalize on the opportunity to make a paradigm shift that is morereflective of the nation’s population. Although the primary focus of these programs are toadvance the participation of underrepresented minority researches, educators and students in theSTEM fields, the strategic initiatives have the ability to enhance discovery and understanding forthe STEM field at large by bolstering a mutual beneficial environment in which all parties gaincommunity life experience through portals that utilizes a collective effort to pool scientificexpertise which is paramount for continued growth in any discipline. The simplistic nature ofthese programs fosters a model that can be easily replicated for any partner institution withsimilar objectives.

Sowells, E. R., & Exner, N., & Abernathy, S. F., & Agrawal, R. K., & Faison, B. S. (2015, June), Women Advancing in Technology Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25080

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