Announcing Beta launch - WiE Mentoring
Announcing Beta launch - WiE Mentoring
WiE Newsletter - May 2020 - ISSUE 7


The date and time listed for SEAS Graduate Student Virtual Graduation Ceremony have been corrected below.

SEAS Undergraduate Virtual Graduation Ceremony
Friday, May 15, 4:00 pm EDT. 
The ceremony will be live streamed, and a link and more information will be provided soon.

SEAS Graduate Student Virtual Graduation Ceremony
Friday, May 15, 6:00 pm EDT
The ceremony will be live streamed, and a link and more information will be provided soon.
Dr. Rachelle Heller

Front and Center 

News from the Director

Greetings from my home to yours as we enter a new month, mainly still staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have been sidelined, but we are still quite busy supporting our community – students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The Center hosted a welcome to incoming female students in April. We were joined by alumna Hetal Patel and graduating senior Shirali Nigam, as well as Professor Jason Zara from Biomedical Engineering and Jonathan Ragone from the Office of Undergraduate Student Services, Advising, and Records. We shared the materials available through the Center and the WiE website, but we mainly fielded questions about student life and opportunities. The event served as an introduction, but a virtual connection just doesn’t quite capture a face-to-face event. We will have to save that for the Fall.

Our second outreach was to our alumni, with a webinar concerning how SEAS has been providing academics and research during the coronavirus.The discussion was led by Raoul Gabiam, director of SEAS Computing. Other speakers included Sierra Gabriel, technologist for the SEAS Computing Center; Professor Erica Gralla of EMSE; and Dawn Ginnetti, student advisor from the office of Undergraduate Services.
Raoul noted that, thankfully, almost all of the students had access to the Internet, and faculty were able to quickly, in under two weeks, move their courses online. The SEAS Computing center managed to get special equipment, such as document cameras, out to faculty with little difficulty. Sierra has been the technology person keeping videos and conference calls and all aspects of the infrastructure going – and so far so good – no ‘zoombombings’, no crashes!
Courses reconvened online right after Spring break. At the same time, advisors moved their usual face-to-face advising hours online and processed student questions rather seamlessly. Dawn did say that she is now meeting students at all hours of the day (and night!), as our students have dispersed across the nation and even the world. Erica spoke about how she is maintaining the team togetherness feeling as much as possible in her class. She has all the students visible online during class, they give a quick round-up of what’s been happening in their stay at home life and then they move into breakout rooms to chat as teams. She did admit she is spending more time in one-on-one meetings or team meetings while also being a parent without childcare.

We are also looking forward.

We use events to mark time – we say ‘before the Internet’ or ‘after the moon shot’. In the future we will surely say ‘before the virus, we …’ Before the virus, graduation was held in person, but not during the virus pandemic. SEAS will host two online celebrations:
  • SEAS Undergraduate Virtual Graduation Ceremony
    Friday, May 15, 4:00 pm EDT.
    The ceremony will be live streamed, and a link and more information will be provided soon.
  • SEAS Graduate Student Virtual Graduation Ceremony
    Friday, May 15, 6:00 pm EDT
    The ceremony will be live streamed, and a link and more information will be provided soon.
We had planned to launch the WiE Mentoring Program in the Fall, but as students are at home, worried about summer programs, future jobs, career decisions and many of our mentors, while busy, might be available right now, we plan to launch our Beta version this month. We have  about a dozen students who have already signed up to be mentees, and about twice as many alumni (and some students) who have offered to be mentors. Check out the mentoring section for full details.

Stay physically distant and socially connected and wash your hands.

Shelly Heller
WiE Center Director

WiE Webinar on SEAS Response to COVID-19

[Click to view video of webinar below]

WiE Webinar - SEAS activities during COVID-19
VIEW WiE Webinar: SEAS Response to COVID-19: Technology, academics, policies and more.
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WiE Mentoring - Mock Interview

WiE Mentoring - Get with the Program!

The Center for Women in Engineering is poised to launch our Mentoring Program. The program will begin as a Beta test with a small number of mentors and mentees. The full mentoring program will follow, with a full launch planned for the Summer of this year.

What is the WiE Mentoring Program?

The WiE Center Mentoring Program is a year-long "one mentor-one mentee" experience, and will connect a student with a SEAS alum (or in some cases, another student), in order to provide support including, but not limited to, career advice, network expansion, job searching and diversity and inclusion-related challenges or issues.

How Does the Program Work?

While the WiE Center Mentoring Program will be coordinated by the WiE Center and the Mentoring Subcommittee, each relationship is structured as a co-pilot relationship, by each mentoring pair. The role of the WiE Center will be to ‘be there’ to help steady the course, as mentoring relationships often change due to job changes, family issues, and personality.

Mentoring participants are expected to formulate their own processes for staying in contact and sign an agreed-upon mentoring contract for their relationship. Both potential mentors and mentees will be provided with a virtual training on how to be a effective member of a mentoring team.

Interested mentors and mentees will be asked to complete a mentoring form online (see below). The WiE Mentoring Subcommittee will review the applications and pair mentors and mentees based on discipline, time since graduation and other features.

The WiE Center Mentoring Program will be assessed based on published mentor program surveys, and will examine six features:
  1. Setting expectations and goals
  2. oal accomplishment
  3. Satisfaction
  4. Academic support
  5. Career support including networking support
  6. Commitment to the relationship. 
The surveys will be conducted with mentoring pairs mid-way through and at the end of each mentoring year.

The results of these surveys will inform the WiE Center Mentoring Program and help improve the early guidance and services provided to mentoring pairs. 

How Do Mentors and Mentees Sign Up?

To participate as either a mentor or mentee in the Program, complete the form at this link, or click on the button below to access it. 
WiE Mentor-Mentee Sign-Up
Shirali Nigam, SEAS BME Graduating Senio

Hot Off the Press

BME graduating senior Shirali Nigam has been working hard to try to promote the volunteer efforts of her younger brother, Arul, who is organizing thousands of meals for frontline workers in COVID hot spots all across the United States. To date, Arul has organized more than 1,000 meals (and counting) for frontline workers in 17 COVID hospitals in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Tampa, San Francisco, Fairfax, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. Shirali’s efforts to promote Arul’s work resulted in this April 29 FOX 5 DC coverage.

On April 30, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new “Reduce Energy Use DC” initiative, a partnership of environmental, business, and community groups and the District leadership to educate DC residents on ways they can use energy more efficiently, take steps to reduce energy use at home, and save money while helping fight climate change. The new initiative asks residents to take a pledge and provides those who sign up with tips on easy ways to save and lower their energy bill. SEAS is one of 21 partner organizations. Annamaria Konya Tannon, the SEAS chief evangelist for innovation and entrepreneurship, coordinated SEAS’ participation in the initiative.
Elizabeth Smith Friedman

What We Are Reading

Like you, I am reading for escape these days as well as for information. The book, The Woman Who Smashed Codes (Jason Fagone) almost falls into both categories. It is the story of Elizabeth Smith Friedman who joined Riverbank Laboratories (and if you have never heard of them, think Hearst Castle but for science!). Friedman is credited as ‘America’s first female cryptanalyst.' This book has it all – science, espionage, feminism, and yes – even a bit of a love story.

The following news story is worth a few moments of your time. It goes to show that there are as many paths to bringing young women into STEM as there are creative minds out there. Darlene Cavalier, Professor at Arizona State University, sought to find for individuals without a science background a pathway forward in STEM careers. Check out (You might have to scan past the advertisements). You can also check out  There is no end to creativity.

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