Dartmouth Celebrates Majority-Female Graduates for Engineering

Dartmouth Celebrates Majority-Female Graduates for Engineering

Dartmouth College, in the US, is celebrating granting 54% of its undergraduate engineering degrees to women. This makes an a world first for a national research university to award more BA degrees in engineering to women than men.

According to Joseph J. Helble, Dean of Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, they have “been able to attract more students, and especially women, by letting them use engineering to solve real-world challenges […] They quickly learn how their creativity and engineering skills can make a real difference.”

In a post on Linkedin Helble has attributed Dartmouth’s success at bringing women into the field to:

  • Exposing students to all engineering disciplines and encouraging them to see engineering, broadly, as a collaborative enterprise focused on solving real-world challenges.
  • Recognising that a STEM mindset makes for better liberal arts graduates, and a liberal arts mindset makes for better engineering graduates – and building a curriculum that supports that philosophy.
  • Building a diverse population of role models for students at all levels, from faculty to technical staff to review boards to teaching assistants, enabling our female students to interact with successful mentors every step of the way.
  • Hiring world-class faculty and staff who are great teachers, lead important research and engage undergraduates in start-ups taking on problems in medical devices, smart phone technology and even ways to reduce concussions in football
  • Placing a premium on the type of hands-on, project-based learning — from the very first engineering class — that students find far more appealing than sitting in a lecture hall.
  • Providing all Dartmouth students, from writers to mathematicians, the opportunity to take entry-level engineering design classes alongside engineering majors.

The graduating year tackled many national and global challenges over 2016 including:

  • Gabriella Grangard invented a new kind of cerebral shunt for treating hydrocephalus (which is excessive fluid and pressure within the cranium leading to chronic pain, disability and death).
  • Shinri Kamei created an ergonomic serving tray to reduce the common occurrence of injuries and accidents experienced by waiters.
  • A battery-powered wall-mounted nicotine detector from Tatjana Toeldte.
  • An innovative exercise-promoting office chair based on human-centered design principles by Mary Grace Weiss.
  • A device to filter and transport water, in sub-Saharan environments from Autumn Chuang.

Engineering also celebrated becoming the third most popular major at Dartmouth, just after economics and government.

Norman Fortenberry, executive director of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) said: “By thinking creatively about the content, context, and delivery of engineering education, Dartmouth has achieved a milestone”.

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