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Data Show Wide Range Of Gender Equity In Engineering Degrees At Top Schools.

The Washington Post (9/21, Anderson) reports that while on average, women earn around 20% of all engineering degrees nationwide, “reflecting generations of male dominance in the field.” Nevertheless, women “earned a majority of bachelor’s degrees in engineering in 2015 at two private schools with sizable programs,” the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering and MIT. At several other top programs, that figure was in the 40 percent range. The article touches on the impact of the #LookLikeAnEngineer movement, and explores gender diversity efforts at engineering programs at major schools.

Article posted: 09/22/2016

More Women Focusing On Engineering And Computer Science At Top Colleges.

The Houston Chronicle  (9/16, Anderson) reports that the number of women enrolling “in engineering and computer science at some of the nation’s most prominent colleges and universities...shows that gender parity is possible in technology fields long dominated by men.” According to federal data, “More than half of engineering bachelor’s degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology went to women in 2015.” Similar results were seen at Dartmouth College, and women are the majority at California’s Harvey Mudd College computer science program. At Carnegie Mellon University, 48 percent of first-year computer science students are women.


        Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Dean Committed To Recruiting Women. The Washington Post (9/16, Anderson) reports in a separate piece that Carnegie Mellon computer science dean Andrew Moore is “a fervent advocate for recruiting more women into the field.” The Post reports that during his time at Google, he resolved to be “alert in the future to anything that might be a potential turnoff for girls interested in his field.” Moore says that in addition to the moral imperative to have a diverse student body, there are also practical implications, since the collaborative nature of computer science work means that if “teams aren’t diverse, they’ll have blind spots that can dampen the power of the brainstorming that is essential to the work.”

Article posted: 09/19/2016

State Department Tackles Gender Gap In STEM.

Education Week  (8/31, Lewis) reports on programs sponsored by the US Department of State engaging girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, where men largely outnumber women worldwide. Among them is “TechGirls,” a summer program which brings students from the Middle East and North Africa to visit tech companies, take part in a coding camp, and engage in service activities – all intended to cultivate their interest in STEM fields. After TechGirls participants return home, their work continues, as the program requires completion of a technology-related project. The State Department also sponsors the WiSci Girls STEAM Camp, which convenes students from around the world for a STEM and art-focused summer camp. “By increasing opportunities for women and girls in the STEM fields, we are getting closer to realizing greater equality for women across the world and widening the pipeline for the next generation of female leaders,” Sarah Shields, the State Department’s program officer for TechGirls, said in an email.

Article posted: 08/31/2016

Deepwater Wind Completes First US Offshore Wind Farm, But Critics Remain.

In a 1,345-word article, the Washington Post (8/27, Dennis) reports “the nation’s first offshore wind farm” has been completed off the cost of Block Island, Rhode Island. According to the Post, the “deliberately small size” of the five-turbine, 30-megawatt project by Providence-based Deepwater Wind is one of the reasons it “has successfully navigated the legal, regulatory and political hurdles that have tripped up others.” While some see the project’s completion as a cause for celebration, the Post says the wind farm “has not been universally embraced by the island’s roughly 1,000 year-round residents,” some of whom view the project’s agreement with regional utility National Grid as a “financial giveaway” to Deepwater Wind investors because it does not represent a cost saving over the diesel generators it is replacing on the island with some of the nation’s highest electrical rates.

Article posted: 08/29/2016

Researchers Develop First Entirely Soft Robot, Powered By Fluids.

Science Daily  (8/24) reports a team of Harvard University researchers “with expertise in 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot.” The 3D-printed robot is nicknamed “the octobot” and “could pave the way for a new generation of completely soft, autonomous machines.”   

The AP  (8/24) says the wireless, battery-less robot “looks like a tiny octopus and is designed to mimic that slithery creature to get through cracks and tight places, making it ideal as a rescue robot.” The researches have created 300 of the robots because they are “cheap to make.” According to the AP, the robots are “not mechanical, nor electrical,” but “powered by fluids.” The discovery “is described, photographed and on video in the scientific journal Nature on Wednesday.”

Article posted: 08/25/2016