Led by Florida Tech First Lady and University Research Professor Mary Helen McCay and Gisele Bennett, Florida Tech’s senior vice president for research, two dozen female Florida Tech students in STEM disciplines visited Harris Corporation’s Global Innovation Center in Melbourne on Jan. 18.
At the Women in STEM event, the students were able to interact with female Harris executives and learn about their professional journey, explore Harris’ defense communication innovations, and talk to recruiters about potential internships.
Fostering careers for all students in Science Technology, Engineering and Math has long been a central focus at Florida Tech, known as Florida’s STEM University. With STEM academics available across the university, from the Aldrin Space Institute to the College of Engineering and Science, there are many opportunities available.
With a focus on women in STEM, groups at the university such as Launch STEM Careers, the Society of Women Engineers and Women in Aviation have a strong social media presence with a blog and Facebook group.
Harris Corporation has been instrumental in supporting Florida Tech’s STEM training, though grants, partnerships and more.
“The Florida Tech students attending the Women in STEM event were extremely engaged in the various technology and career discussions. It was exciting to see how passionate they are about their futures,“ said Sandi Lee, vice president, global communications, Harris Corporation. “We were delighted to host the event as part of our commitment to support and invest in STEM initiatives that help foster the next generation of women leaders.”
McCay was pleased with the interest of the students and enjoyed sharing ideas with them and Harris professionals. With a decorated history in STEM, from serving as a payload specialist astronaut alternate to her leadership of Florida Tech’s National Center for Hydrogen Research, McCay has seen the power of the STEM disciplines and is eager to help students succeed.
“Personally, I think the STEM field has helped me appreciate the world and my environment, knowing more about science and engineering, and what goes into being able to do that, as well as the different aspects of space,” she said. “I think it broadens one’s horizons.”
While more women have entered STEM occupations, and a Bureau of Labor Statistics study suggests that life sciences have seen an overall reduction in the gender gap, the percentage of women in engineering and computer science occupations has remained flat.
According to the Society of Women Engineers, a 2013 study found that while more women than men graduated with a degree in a STEM field, over 30 percent of those female graduates switched out of STEM to pursue a degree outside the field.