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Source: Kimberly Douglas-Mankin, 785-532-3395, kddm@k-state.edu
Web site: http://www.k-state.edu/wesp/index.html
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-6415, bbohn@k-state.edu

Thursday, April 15, 2010

K-STATE'S WOMEN IN ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE PROGRAM RECOGNIZED AS BEST IN THE NATION

MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University program that cultivates the science and technology interests of women from grade school through postgraduate levels is being nationally recognized for excellence.

K-State's Women in Engineering and Science Program, also known as WESP, has received the Women in Engineering Program Award as the nation's outstanding Women in Engineering program. The award, from the Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network, was presented at the network's joint conference with the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates, April 12-14, in Baltimore, Md.

The award is presented annually to one outstanding Women in Engineering program that is serving as a model for other institutions. To be considered, the program has to have been in existence for five or more years and have assessment data that shows how the program has made an impact. The honor includes a plaque and opportunity to speak on an experts' panel at the next Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network national conference.

The Women in Engineering and Science Program is a collaborative effort between K-State's colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences, according to Kimberly Douglas-Mankin, director.

"WESP designs and implements programs that make K-State a better place for women to pursue their interests in science and engineering," Douglas-Mankin said. "Programming is structured around three purposes: promoting awareness, building community and providing support. While programming is designed to benefit female students in engineering and science, many of the programs offered by the WESP office serve all students. The reality is that the things that make K-State better for women scientists and engineers also make K-State better for everyone."

Douglas-Mankin said the Women in Science and Engineering Program creates a wide range of opportunities for students to connect with program participants and others who are passionate about engineering and science.

"It's a pipeline of ways to be involved from grade school through graduate school and beyond," she said. "Individuals can be engaged in ways that are tailored to their needs. Some are involved in many different ways, and others are involved in individual programs. The important thing is that they have opportunities to build relationships and reinforce their excitement for engineering and science."

The program offers GROW -- Girls Researching Our World -- and EXCITE! -- EXploring sCIence, Technology and Engineering -- for middle school- to high school-age girls; Scholars Assisting Scholars, a free tutoring program for engineering and the sciences that employs K-State students who actually attend the class they tutor; CSI or CampuS Internship program, gives first-year students the opportunity to participate in academic research in their discipline early in their college careers; and CONNECT, a program that helps family members understand how to support student success in engineering or science.

The Women in Engineering and Science Program also is a partner of K-State's ADVANCE institutional transformation program, a coordinated campus effort to achieve institutional transformation by increasing the participation and advancement of women faculty in the science, mathematics and engineering disciplines.

"WESP has made a difference at K-State by building programs that allow students, faculty, and staff to share their enthusiasm and passion for science and engineering, and build relationships with those who are younger in terms of age or knowledge," Douglas-Mankin said. "Programs are designed to maximize impact while minimizing the time investment of those who contribute. We are a catalyst for recruiting and retaining women in engineering and science."

Douglas-Mankin said K-State's Women in Engineering and Science Program is a model for similar programs because it helps build networks and community for young women to inspire their interest in engineering and science, and it helps them overcome the day-to-day challenges of being underrepresented in engineering and science.

"WESP is unique in that it builds programs to address the needs of female students -- but WESP programs are accessible to everyone, not exclusively women," she said. "WESP also develops new tools to document our successes and failures so we can assess if programs are having an impact. This allows others to see the value of what we've done, and helps us all be smarter as we invest in future scientists and engineers."

While the Women in Engineering and Science Program actually received the award, the honor is the result of the difference that numerous people across campus have been making to support female students through the program's offerings, Douglas-Mankin said.

"We are making a difference for students pursuing engineering and the results show it," she said.

The Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network is a national not-for-profit organization with more than 600 members from engineering schools, small businesses, Fortune 500 corporations and nonprofit organizations. The network works to transform culture in engineering education to attract, retain and graduate women. The network's members represent 150 college and university campuses and reach 42,890 female engineering students or 60 percent of the female engineering students through campus-based programs and initiatives.