Women in Science and Engineering

women in science and engineering

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Serita Acker and WISE are featured in the Clemson publication Head On

Girl Scouts "WISE" up
Why do some shampoos lather more than others? What does it take to build a robot? How does global positioning work? South Carolina Girl Scouts found out when they explored engineering and science at Clemson University on "Introduce a Girl to Engineering and Science Day," now in its 7th year. Seventy girls, in 4th-12th grades, from across the state attended the workshop sponsored by Clemson's Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, Lockheed Martin and Girl Scouts of the Old 96 Council. The girls will mix chemicals to create shampoo, conduct weather experiments, build robots, and complete a GPS scavenger hunt. "We expose these young women to career options in engineering and science and demonstrate how engineering and science affects everyday life," said Serita Acker, program director of Clemson's WISE program. "There is still a deep-rooted belief that only boys are inventors. We need to teach our girls that they can be part of the design teams that are continually shaping the world." Less than 10 percent of the engineers in the United States are women, said Acker. But, Clemson is bucking that trend with WISE, a mentoring program that offers female undergraduates one-on-one support. Nearly a quarter of undergraduates in Clemson's College of Engineering and Science are women.

Jennifer Ogle, assistant professor in civil engineering, leads visiting Girl Scouts in a GPS scavenger hunt. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of a network of 24 satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense. GPS was originally intended for military applications, but in the 1980s, the government made the system available for civilian use.

WISE director honored
Serita Acker, director of Clemson's Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, has received the 2013 National Engineers Week Foundation, “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Award.” The award honors organizations for outstanding outreach efforts as a part of National Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day in February. WISE collaborated with Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, and Girl Scouts from Mountains to Midlands to present its 13th annual “Introduce a Girl to Engineering and Science Day.” WISE was also honored with the National WEPAN Award in 2005 for its initiatives in exposing young women to the fields of engineering and science, and for its dedication to mentoring women in these majors. WEPAN is a national not-for-profit organization with more than 600 members from nearly 200 engineering schools, small businesses, Fortune 500 corporations and non-profit organizations.

Acker joined Clemson's Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention (PEER) staff in 1995, which led to her involvement with WISE. Under her leadership, WISE has expanded to include outreach programs for females from kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as current undergraduate female students. Acker was recognized as the University's 2005 Outstanding Woman in the classified staff category.