NYU Tandon School of Engineering is taking big steps in order to shatter the gender divide in STEM fields. On July 20, the next generation of women engineers came together at WEST Fest (the acronym stands for Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology), an annual networking event for incoming first-year students and high schoolers participating in summer STEM programs. Attendees engaged with an all-star panel, met peers with similar interests and talents, and spoke with representatives from many of NYU Tandon’s clubs and organizations.
While some students might be reluctant to go to school during the summer, dozens of young women gladly took a break from their usual summer activities for an exciting evening and the opportunity to explore their campus before their peers. With many of the girls coming from high schools lacking academically challenging STEM programs, finding so many young people with similar interests felt refreshing to many.
Melinda Parham, Assistant Dean for First-year Students & Academic Initiatives, encouraged students to find their voices and investigate all the options available to them. Although she spoke of long-term goals, the young women then had the opportunity to immediately see their extracurricular options during a resource fair framed as a bingo game. Through this activity, students collaborated with their future classmates in an effort to discover the advantages of choosing NYU Tandon.
During the latter part of the event, participants enjoyed a question and answer session with a panel of female faculty members, as well as a current student. Julie Netto, Senior Assistant Director at Wasserman Career Center, spoke of the WoMentorship Program, in which freshmen are partnered with upperclassmen in order to engage in social activities, academic opportunities, and career and professional development. Additionally, Chandrika Khanduri, a rising computer science senior and Orientation Leader, provided a student perspective. She shared some insight on finding research opportunities at NYU Tandon and encouraged incoming students to acquaint themselves with professors early on, in order to take advantage of valuable research experiences.
With many incoming first-year students in attendance, an excited energy could be felt throughout the room. Sabreena “Angie” Beck, one of the enthusiastic students, will be studying computer and electrical engineering. When asked what she thought of the event she said, “I think it was very helpful…I love how there are so many opportunities, so many networks, so many labs, and so many projects you can join.” Beck hopes to work in the medical engineering field, particularly with chip technology, and thinks NYU Tandon is the perfect place to do that. “I love how they are so excited about getting women into engineering and encouraging us to be the best we can be,” she added. “I like the challenge of being one of the few women in engineering. I feel like there are a lot of women ready to break rules and get big jobs and I hope to be part of that movement.”