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Computer science, math, and engineering students attend global leadership conference for women

ISSUED: 8 December 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Five Shepherd University students from the Department of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Engineering participated in the IEEE-WIE Global Women in STEM Leadership Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, November 2-4. The summit offered speeches, workshops, and roundtable discussions on careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) is a professional organization with more than 400,000 members worldwide. WIE (Women in Engineering) is a subgroup of IEEE with more than 18,500 members worldwide that focuses on women in the computer science and engineering fields. Shepherd has a student chapter of both organizations.

Those who attended the summit were Lisa Butler, a computer engineering and computer science major from Charles Town and president of Shepherd’s IEEE chapter; Keisha Burns, a computer and information technology major from Hedgesville; Christiana Pontier, a computer engineering major from Buffalo; Hannah McDonald, a math major from Morgantown who chairs Shepherd’s WIE group; and Charlynn Stubbert, a computer engineering major from Winchester, Virginia, and treasurer of Shepherd’s IEEE chapter.

As part of her leadership role in Shepherd’s IEEE organization, Butler has made sure members are given the chance to attend some kind of conference every year. She found this summit particularly inspirational because it offered an opportunity to meet and network with women who are highly successful in STEM fields.

“The advice that they had is something you can’t get from just any mentor,” said Butler, who eventually wants to go into engineering research and design. “It’s only going to be able to come from women who have been in the engineering field, and we don’t have much access here in this area to those women. Having that one-on-one time with women who have been in the field and who have pioneered in the field is valuable.”

“It was very inspiring,” said McDonald, who wants to eventually earn a Ph.D. and work with robotic prosthetics. “It reminded me of my goals, and I’m very excited for next semester and next year. I’ve started planning some of the things I want to do.”

McDonald wants to continue helping with the annual Seeding Your Future conference for middle school-age girls and would like to find other ways to reach out to girls in that age group. She’s also interested in starting a women’s coding club on campus.

“Attending the conference was mind blowing. It was practically all women,” said Stubbert, whose goal is to become a professor. “That is very empowering, and I learned a lot.”

Burns said she learned how to better develop leaderships skills, how to improve community relations through the IEEE club, and how to offer community outreach to involve more children in STEM activities.

“It was a really amazing networking experience,” Burns said. “There were participants came from all over the East Coast.”

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