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Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders – SVSU Women Engineers

In recent years, educators and organizations have been encouraging women to join the STEM field. As of 2018, only 13% of the engineering work force were women. In 2013, Dr. Rajani Muraleedharan formed Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders – SVSU Women Engineers, a group focused on recruiting women students to engineering. By creating an inclusive environment and increasing leadership capabilities in students, Dr. Muraleedharan is empowering SVSU’s women engineers.

SVSU’s Women Engineers chapter is part of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the largest advocate for women in the engineering and technology industries. As of 2021, SVSU SWE is represented by 18 student members, growing from 3 members in 2013. The members of SVSU SWE volunteer at local schools, inspiring young girls to join STEM. They also compete in regional events such as General Motors Women in Engineering Workshop, STEM Festival and the National Science Bowl Competition. Most importantly, SVSU SWE students participate in the SWE national conference, a rare professional development and networking opportunity that exposes students to other female engineers.

SVSU has funded travel for 4-5 SWE students to the yearly conference since 2015. At the conference, students promote SVSU SWE and recruit K-12 students to the SVSU engineering program. While this funding supported the cost of air travel and some hotel accommodation, many students chose not to attend, as they could not afford the costs of the trip.

In 2021, Dr. Muraleedharan received at $4,300 grant from the SVSU Foundation Resource Grants Program for the SWE national conference trip. The SVSU Foundation Resource Grant Program supports and encourages the innovation and enrichment of student opportunities including domestic travel experiences, seminars, cultural experiences and other projects and activities.

The grant covered registration fees, travel, hotel and food for 8 people, as opposed to the 4-5 that typically attended. Students were able to participate in topics including Career Management, Inclusion & Cultural Awareness, Self-management & Development and Strategic Leadership based on their individual interests.

To learn more about other internal grant programs, many of which are funded by generous donors, click here.


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