The members of the University of Michigan-Society of Women Engineers (UM-SWE) Section will travel to the University of Liberia this summer and work to implement a leadership camp, open to up to 30 female engineering students in Liberia. The goals of this S.U.C.C.E.S.S. leadership camp are two-fold: to empower Liberian and U.S. women engineers with the skills, support and inspiration necessary to become successful and well-rounded engineering professionals; and to strengthen the community of female engineers in Liberia by building cross-cultural partnerships among female engineering students, ultimately strenthening the global network of women engineers.
The collaboration between UM-SWE members and Liberian students will span two weeks. The first week will bring together ten members from UM-SWE (that will include both graduate and some undergraduate members) and ten from Liberia (all undergraduate) to organize logistics and coordinate activities for the second week of the program, which will be a leadership camp open to an expanded total of 30 Liberian engineering student participants. This week-long leadership camp will have a workshop-based format focused on two themes: refining academic and professional skills, and student organization development. The academic and professional skills sessions will cover topics related to the graduate school application process, GRE/TOEFL tips, proposal writing and networking skills. The student organization development portion will cover organizational skills, strategies for persisting as minorities in engineering, and the envisioning and implementation of student organization objectives. Ultimately, the workshops for these two themes will lay the foundation for the development of a strong SWE Affiliate in Liberia that will support further local development.Engineering students in Liberia strengthen their professional resources by working with the University of Michigan-SWE Section in 2013.
Recognition of the need for this leadership camp is the result of a process that spans the past three years, which began when the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering became a subcontractor for the USAID-funded Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) project . The EHELD project has the focus to improve the engineering education system at the University of Liberia, with a particular emphasis on increasing the amount of women in engineering in Liberia. Under this project, the University of Michigan is specifically charged with carrying out co-curricular programs for high school and undergraduate engineering students, in which half of all participants are women.