White House honors COES associate dean

December 15, 2011



Staff Reporter


Jenna Carpenter, associate dean of the College of Engineering and Science, was invited to the White House as an honored guest to participate in the Champions of Change roundtable event Friday.


Friday’s Champions of Change roundtable event, hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement, is for those who help recruit girls and retain women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.


According to whitehouse.gov, each week the Obama administration highlights a group of Americans “doing extraordinary things to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”


Carpenter was selected to represent the Women in Engineering Proactive Network (WEPAN) because of her contributions advancing women in the engineering field.


Carpenter has been a member on WEPAN’s board for five years, a national organization that “works at transforming culture for women in science and engineering.”


She has worked with the organization to educate people.


“The message that girls can and should go into STEM needs to get out into the general public,” Carpenter said.


At the event, Carpenter spoke at a breakout session on mentoring and participated in a panel discussion on issues for women in STEM. Carpenter runs a faculty mentoring program at Tech and mentors graduate students in a bimonthly College Graduate Seminar.


“It’s been a great platform for talking about the issues of women in STEM,” she said. “It’s always interesting to hear about the kinds of initiatives other people are doing.”


Carpenter said the attendees ranged from women working with girl scouts to a CEO at a technology firm.


“They really had representatives from every conceivable area that would work with STEM,” Carpenter said.


Carpenter said the topic of this event is important because the engineering industry is shrinking. She stated that although more than half of students entering college are female, the engineering field is not attracting women and minorities.


Carpenter said this is a growing problem because the United States has been behind in engineering for 10 to 15 years for many reasons.


“China and India are growing, and we need to stay competitive,” said Carpenter.


She also said engineering is necessary to stay on the cutting edge in the areas of medicine and manufacturing, as well as to help improve water systems and create a greener environment.


Carpenter is the faculty adviser for Tech’s chapter of Society of Women Engineer., She said this is important because today’s student is more interested in doing good yet most people do not know exactly what engineers do or how they do it.


Valessa Spratley, a senior in chemical engineering and secretary of SWE, said Carpenter helps a lot with direction of the organization.


“She is a role model on how to succeed as a minority, make your presence known, and stand out,” Spratley said.


Brittney Copponex, a junior mechanical engineering major, agreed with Spratley and said Carpenter is a great mentor.


Copponex said Carpenter also helps a lot in preparing the engineering organizations for career fairs.


“If I ever have any troubles at all or need anything, she’s there for us,” said Copponex, vice president of SWE. Copponex said Carpenter also helps students fund-raise and get grants to help pay for conferences. Copponex said “she is constantly multitasking but always willing to take out time for a student”.


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