Women in Engineering Mentoring Program (Purdue)

West Lafayette, IN | 1997


The official biography below was current at the time of the award. See the organization's website for its latest information.

Purdue's Women in Engineering Mentoring Program (WIEMP) was created in 1992 to expand the number of women engineering students. A networking model was chosen as a way for students to provide support to each other in personal and professional advancement. Mentors are experienced students and alumni who are working in engineering fields. The components of the mentoring model focus on: undergraduates in the first and third year; undergraduates in the second and fourth year; and graduates pursuing masters and doctorates. As a consequence, the mentoring programs provide constant support to women in the program. There is ongoing assessment of the women in the program as well as a summative evaluation. Results indicate that retention is 19 percent higher for women in the program. Purdue has already institutionalized Undergraduate Mentoring Programs of WIEMP in their Women in Engineering Programs. The success of the program has been cited in professional publications, and presentations. In addition, information has been distributed internally as well to 35 higher education institutions throughout the country. A thorough proposal demonstrates changes the university has made to affect the enrollment of women in their engineering program. The strengths of the nominee include: excellent continuity in its mentoring program whereby former mentees become mentors, number of institutions acknowledging the success of the program indicates possible replication, undergraduate programs introduced are being institutionalized, active involvement is clearly seen as a bonus, high rate of success, linking graduate students with Ph.D. alumni is great for continuity, mentoring is mostly independent of faculty, recruitment of women in engineering is excellent. In summary, WIEMP offers outstanding mentoring continuity for female engineering students that stems from their first year as freshmen to afte r graduation when they can serve as alumni mentors for graduate students. Throughout the program process, evaluation is undertaken to ensure student satisfaction with the mentoring support and strategies. The retention and graduation data indicate a very high success rate. Linking graduate student participants with Ph.D. alumni changes the traditional educational system in a positive way by bringing the world of work closer to the students' university experience.