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Dayton Engineer

New Sophomore Housing Program Enhances Female STEM Mentorship

By Rachel Richardson, marketing communications intern

Being a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) major isn’t easy but living in a supportive environment with other STEM majors makes it easier and fun. After extensive planning and a period of review, the University of Dayton (UD) is proud to announce a new second-year housing option for women majoring in science and engineering. 

This program provides a bridge between the Women in Science and Engineering Integrated Learning-Living Community (WISE ILLC) opportunity available to first-year female STEM majors and the WISE house for juniors and seniors in the student neighborhood. WISE ILLC students live in residence halls on floors with similar majors and take chemistry and/or engineering classes as a cohort. The new housing option for second-year students will be located in Virginia W. Kettering residence hall and offer opportunities for collaboration, service and mentorship. 

The idea stemmed from a Six Sigma class about developing best practices for mentoring women in STEM to further their education taught by Sandy Furterer, associate professor in engineering management, systems and technology. Studies have proven that women in STEM who receive guidance in a supportive environment during college extend further in their programs and feel more equipped to follow their career path. 

Furterer’s second Six Sigma class sought out insight from females living on WISE floors and researched how to create these relationships for all housing levels at the University. After they discussed their research with Beth Hart, director of the Women in Engineering Program, she developed the idea of a WISE Designed Learning Experience (DLE) for sophomores in consultation with Housing and Residence Life. Their proposal was accepted, and the pilot program will start next fall for the 2019-20 school year.

In this program, the residents get to experience both sides of mentorship. Each floor has a WISE resident assistant living near them to serve as a resource, and all participants will receive mentorship through faculty dinners, speakers, hands-on-skills workshops and community building activities. The residents are also matched with first-year students living in a WISE ILLC and organize events to foster connections through peer tutoring, networking dinners and social activities. Participants will engage in service opportunities in the greater Dayton community and build their leadership skills through mentorship training.

The new DLE for sophomores allows women in STEM to live in learning communities throughout their four years at UD. According to Hart, the main goal for this initiative is “to make a strong community of women in STEM surrounded by support and celebration.”  

The University of Dayton is excited to have female STEM majors learn, lead and live their best lives in the classroom and in their communities.

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