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WIE DREAM Conference Inspires High School Students

February 26, 2013

Ted Knight 301-405-3596

2013 WIE Dream Conference attendeesCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - High school girls from across the region gathered at the University of Maryland on Feb. 23, 2013, for the Women in Engineering (WIE) Program's 5th annual DREAM (Developing Revolutionary Engineers and Mentors) Conference to explore their passion for engineering and innovation.

"Diversity and the inclusion of women are critical to the field of engineering," explained Dr. Paige Smith, director of WIE. "There is a strong connection between innovation and diversity. Diversity brings creativity and creativity drives innovation."

Smith went on to share the exciting news that, at the time of the conference, an unprecedented 33 percent of the A. James Clark School of Engineering's fall 2013 admitted engineering undergraduates are women.

Throughout the day, participants rotated through a series of highly interactive discussions, demonstrations and an information fair that showcased the innovations, applications and opportunities that engineering offers. The conference encouraged participants to be inquisitive, to hone problem-solving skills and to invent solutions for real-world problems.

For many participants, the WIE DREAM Conference was a chance to catch a glimpse of life as a college engineering student. Panels were led by UMD faculty, staff and current students on topics such as engineering abroad, the Gamera Project and cybersecurity. The event also featured forums with professional women engineers from a variety of leading organizations like BAE Systems and NASA, who explained the work they do and encouraged students to reach for their dream jobs.

The event featured a keynote address by Denise Russell Fleming, vice president of business technology & transformation at BAE Systems. Fleming shared the inspirational story of her path to success, stressing that the best path may not always be a straight line. Fleming encouraged students to have a strong center, to be open to new possibilities and to embrace changes in direction. And, most importantly, to "enjoy the ride!"

"I couldn't be happier with today's events," concluded Bria McElroy, Assistant Director of WIE. "We aim to inspire these young women, and I feel that's exactly what we've accomplished together."

2013 WIE Dream Conference attendees