Empowering women in science & engineering

Engineering students receive a $1,000 scholarship awarded by the College of Engineering & Women in Defense—Greater Boston Chapter along with a 5-year scholarship from Women Innovation to support their goal of pursuing a career in the US STEM workforce.

Left to right: Dean Jean VanderGheyst, UMassD College of Engineering & WID—GBC scholarship recipients Raena Gaston, Kelley Chanaphay, Lois Konadu, Tabitha Aguiar, and Erika Caushi; Diane Phillips (vice president of Boston Operations for JRAD), and Karen Krause-Bencal (managing director of K2C Ventures).

Five UMass Dartmouth undergraduate students have been awarded the College of Engineering & Women in Defense—Greater Boston Chapter (WID—GBC) 2021 scholarship. The awards are given to students who have an interest in pursuing a career related to national security or defense and/or are affiliated with the UMass Dartmouth Women in Engineering Engagement Community.

“These scholarships encourage young women to dive headfirst into fields that need more female leaders, such as STEM-based industries like tech, defense, security, and the many fields of engineering,” said Dr. Jean VanderGheynst, dean of the College of Engineering and co-creator of the College of Engineering & WID—GBC "Empowering Women in Science & Engineering" event with UMassD alumna Diane Phillips, vice president of Boston Operations for JRAD.

“Despite many efforts at the national level to increase the interest of all students in STEM, women continue to be underrepresented in the US STEM workforce. Our partnership with Women in Defense aims to build networking and professional development skills in our female students so they are prepared to be leaders in the technology workforce upon graduation.”

Dean Jean VanderGheynst and Diane Phillips co-created the College of Engineering & WID—GBC "Empowering Women in Science & Engineering" event in 2019 to help support female students seeking to enter the US STEM workforce.

The 2021 College of Engineering & WID-GBC scholarship awardees are:

  • Tabitha Aguiar ‘22, an electrical engineering major.
  • Erika Caushi ‘23, an electrical engineering major, a member of the Society of Women Engineers, and secretary of the UMass Dartmouth Robotics Club.
  • Kelley Chanaphay ‘25, a computer, and information science major.
  • Raena Gaston ‘25, a pre-med student majoring in bioengineering and a member of the MASSPIRG Club.
  • Lois Konadu ‘24, a first-year computer, and information science major.
Industry professionals speed network with students during the Empowering Women in Science and Engineering event on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.

Additionally, six women pursuing engineering-related degrees from three area universities were also awarded scholarships by the WID-GBC chapter.

Scholarship awardees include:

  • Madison Reed, who is pursuing her master’s in plastics engineering at UMass Lowell.
  • Samantha Foss, who is completing her bachelor’s in electronic engineering UMass Lowell.
  • Samantha Hubner, who is continuing her education at Tufts University with a focus on international security studies, geospatial intelligence, and tech policy.
  • Sarah Miller, who is continuing her education at Tufts University’s Fletchers School of Law and Diplomacy, with a focus on conflict negotiation and international security studies.
  • Tam Brewster, who is completing her master’s degree in industrial engineering and engineering leadership at Northeastern University.
  • Yaneliz Garcia Ruiz, who is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in civil engineering at UMass Lowell.

Each recipient was honored at the Empowering Women in Science & Engineering” event on Tuesday, October 26. UMassD alumnae and industry professionals from Beacon Interactive Systems, Innovation Women, Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility, STR, NUWC, Raytheon, and other companies participated in the engaging 3-hour event. This group of professional women discussed engineering-based work, technologies, and career opportunities in the defense industry shared their career advice, and made connections with each of the students during a speed networking session.  

In addition to receiving a $1,000 scholarship, Innovation Women, a speaker’s bureau for entrepreneurial, technical, and professional women, provided 5-year scholarships for all the winners.

Empowering Women in Science and Engineering event speakers (l to r): Laurra Winters, director of the Navy Clothing & Textile Research Facility; Abigail Keith '20, electrical engineer 2 at Raytheon; Melissa Pijoan '18, logistics engineer & software depot activation lead for Applied Research Solutions; Jean VanderGheynst, dean of the College of Engineering; Diane Phillips '84, vice president of Boston Operations for JRAD; ML Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Beacon Interactive Systems; & Patricia Eno, engineering manager.

About Women In Defense  

Women In Defense (WID), a National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Affiliate, engages, cultivates, and advances women in all aspects of national security. Incorporated in 1985, Women In Defense provides members a business environment for professional growth through strategic networking, education, and career development.

This national alliance is comprised of women and men from industry and defense organizations of every size; all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces; Government agencies, academia, think tanks, associations and professional services. Learn more.

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