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The conference provides a forum for women who are pursuing careers in technological and scientific fields to share their experiences and accomplishments. *Photo taken prior to COVID-19 restrictions. | Image: Courtesy of Tanvi Katke

The annual Susan M. Arseven ’75 Conference for Women in Science and Engineering will be held virtually on Saturday, Feb. 20. The conference’s mission is to provide a space for women who have interconnecting passions to share their struggles, triumphs and advice to others who face similar situations as women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). As an attendee of the virtual conference, students will partake in interactive workshops, engage in meaningful conversations and listen to knowledgeable speakers who used their passions to spark their careers.

Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) began when several women graduate students from the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University noticed the lack of women in scientific and engineering fields and the alarming rate of women dropping out of graduate studies. When a survey revealed that women desired to make connections throughout their educational experience, they assembled to make a difference for women on campus. The WISE organization brings students together from all technical and scientific colleges to create better conditions and provide a support system for women in these fields.

“It is an organization full of diverse women focusing on different research areas – it represents women in science and engineering's voice,” said Min Huang, a graduate student in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical engineering. “This organization provides a platform for women to share personal experiences and discuss problems we may encounter or already have.”

Two attendees of last year’s conference held in February 2020, were Huang and Tanvi Katke, who is also a mechanical engineering graduate student. Katke, who is pursuing her master’s degree, researches multiphase flows in the Turbomachinery Laboratory. She said the conference noted strides toward a more positive view of women in science and engineering.

“It was a great experience,” said Katke. “The sessions were informative. They spanned a range of topics from work etiquette – being the only woman in the room – to financial management. They consistently portrayed an improving mindset toward women in STEM.”     

Huang is seeking a doctoral degree and studies electron beam processing and low-temperature plasma applications. Her current research focuses on material property and functionality testing of medical devices after sterilization by an electron beam, X-ray, gamma and plasma.

Huang mirrored the words of Katke when speaking of her experience at last year’s WISE conference.

“I had the chance to meet women in different areas of engineering, and I was able to connect with women from industry and academia,” Huang said. “I spoke with successful and like-minded women who gave me insight into career decisions. Their experiences encourage me to pursue a career either in industry or in academia.”