The SME Education Foundation has nominated Melissa Meyer for the Collegiate Edition of the 2014 New Faces of Engineering. The program recognizes exemplary undergraduate engineering students, with the winners receiving scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000. The winners will be announced on April 2, 2014.

Melissa is a senior at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she maintains a 3.4 GPA in the Geological Engineering program. She has studied nuclear engineering at the Technical University of Munich, Germany and received a Shell Undergraduate Research Fund Grant.

Melissa’s decision to become an engineer was influenced by continuous exposure to the many ways engineers shape the world around them. She participated in summer camps throughout middle school and high school that exposed her to a variety of engineering disciplines. But most of all, there was her father, a 25-year member of SME. She credits him as a key influence in her choice of career. A career choice that surprisingly enough—even in 2014—remains groundbreaking.

The Engineering Gender Gap

While women now account for 57 percent of college students at the undergraduate level, according to a recent study by the National Science Foundation only 19 percent of students in engineering programs are women. The gender gap worsens when engineering graduates enter the workforce. A September 2013 report released by the U.S. Census, Disparities in STEM Employment by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Originillustrates that while women comprise nearly half of the workforce, only 26 percent of STEM workers are women. And of those STEM workers who are engineers only 11 percent are women.

Motivating more women and girls to consider careers in engineering is critical. In their December 2012 report, Roadmap for Manufacturing EducationThe Manufacturing Institute made a strong case for how the U.S. is at risk for losing its competitive edge by allowing talent to be “lost throughout the various stages of the educational pipeline.”

This shortage affects every aspect of the manufacturing process. Since manufacturing is a major driver of productivity growth (increasing at two and one-half times the rate of the service sector) the impact of an industry being unable to perform at full capacity due to a workforce shortage becomes disturbingly clear.

The need to encourage more young women to consider an engineering career has given rise to numerous girl-only summer camps and events such as Girl Day. This one-day event introduces girls to the creative and collaborative aspects of engineering and was started by DiscoverE (formerly known as the National Engineers Week Foundation). Girl Day takes place February 20th. Events are scheduled nationwide.

About the SME Education Foundation

The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, preparing and supporting the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists in the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by SME in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $33 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations and individual donors. Visit the SME Education Foundation at smeef.org. Also visit CareerMe.org for information on advanced manufacturing careers andManufacturingisCool.com, our award-winning Web site for young people. Follow @mfgeducation on Twitter.

About DiscoverE

DiscoverE works year-round to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession critical to public health, safety, and welfare. The foundation supports engineering outreach, education, and celebration through a network of thousands of volunteers in its partner coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. Together we meet a vital need: introducing students, parents, and educators to engineering, engaging them in hands-on engineering experiences, and making science and math relevant. The foundation and coalition are actively putting the E in STEM. For more information, visit discovere.org.

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