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New WVU Tech Student Group Supports Women in STEM Fields

Check out the AWESOME video on YouTube.

AWESOME, the Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, Or Mathematicians Empowerment, is a new WVU Tech student group dedicated to supporting female students in STEM programs and sharing STEM with K-12 schools.

The organization hosted its kickoff Mix & Mingle event on Thursday, October 23 in WVU Tech’s Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences auditorium. At the event, attendees heard from guest speaker, Millie Marshall, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, Inc., who oversees the company’s manufacturing facility in Buffalo, West Virginia.

Marshall delivered a message of encouragement to students, shared tips for finding success in the workplace and charged AWESOME members with helping to change the culture around gender roles in STEM fields.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a family where I never felt like I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do,” said Marshall. “But there are perceptions that need to change from an overall cultural perspective. We’ve got to combat the image that engineering or manufacturing is your grandfather’s job, and the first step is to get students interested in STEM at a young age.”

Dr. Stephany Coffman-Wolph, AWESOME faculty advisor and professor in the WVU Tech department of Computer Sciences and information Systems, said the group will give members a chance to take that challenge to the classroom by participating in outreach programs that get young students interested in pursuing these important fields.

“We need to pull them at those early, early ages and get the students involved during the outreach, before they have been influenced, before someone has said to them ‘you can’t do that.’ We want to get them before that so that we can say ‘hey, you can do this,’” she said.

In addition to outreach, the organization will allow members to participate in networking events, STEM conferences and mentorships with faculty and industry professionals.

Kristie Tran, WVU Tech mechanical engineering major and Vice President of AWESOME, said the group is much more than a just a girls’ club.

“It’s a space for all the women in STEM to get together, to talk with each other, to encourage each other – just to know that someone’s there with you, and you’re not alone,” she said.