Austin Events Highlight Women in STEM

Inaugural NXP Foundation Women's STEM Leadership Forum and Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference promoted women's contributions and opportunities.
Austin Events Highlight Women In Stem

This article by Tony Cantu was originally published by South Austin Patch.

SOUTH AUSTIN, TX — The NXP Foundation — a nonprofit promoting advancement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education — recently hosted its inaugural Women’s STEM Leadership Forum in South Austin, just before the Society of Women Engineers staged their national conference downtown.

During the event, renowned Harvard Professor Barbara Grosz was honored with the Prize for Women’s Leadership in STEM. Also honored at the event were ten Women’s STEM Student Achievement Award winners, all talented pupils excelling in a variety of STEM fields, also awarded cash prizes of up to $5,000.

The NXP Foundation, is the nonprofit organization of NXP Semiconductors™ with an aim of advancing STEM education. To that end, last week’s forum help connect industry pioneers and preeminent professionals with highly accomplished students.

“Today, the NXP Foundation created an extraordinary dialogue between the best and brightest young minds in the field of STEM,” Danielle Alexandra, chair of the NXP Foundation, said after the Oct. 25 event. “Just as NXP enables a smarter world, these young women will create, innovate, imagine and build the future of technology that will benefit humankind. We are extremely lucky to offer young women this opportunity to explore and embrace STEM and are very proud of what they have already accomplished.”

The Women’s STEM Leadership Forum enabled attendees the opportunity to network and engage in dialogue with technology leaders during a series of presentations and panel discussions. Keynote speakers included:

Barbara Grosz: recipient of the 2017 NXP Foundation Prize for Women’s Leadership in STEM and renowned expert in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Grosz, a Senior Professor in Computer Science at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University, is widely respected for her seminal contributions to research on human-computer communication. Grosz spoke on artificial intelligence platforms and the ethics of AI versus the human brain.

Dr. Peter Stone: The David Bruton, Jr. Centennial Professor and Associate Chair of Computer Science, as well as Chair of the Robotics Portfolio Program, at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Stone spoke about his research in machine learning and multiagent systems, and the evolution of his extraordinary, award-winning team of robot soccer agents.

Bill Kroyer: award-winning director of animation and computer graphics commercials, short films, movie titles and theatrical films, Director of Digital Arts at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and Co-Chair of the Science & Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Recognized as a pioneer in animation, Kroyer was one of the first animators to make the leap to computer animation as a computer image choreographer on Disney’s ground-breaking 1982 feature, Tron. He spoke about his experience with the big screen and approach to computer animation.

Additionally, discussion panel participants included visionary women leaders in industry, academia, and government: Deborah Spence-Cummings, Dipti Vachani, Dr. Ellen M. Rathje, Diana Clemmons and panel moderator Tricia Berry.

NXP Foundation

Also honored were the ten Women’s STEM Student Achievement Award winners. These honorees were recognized for their accomplishments and their vision for using STEM to have an impactful, positive change in the world or to solve one of the world’s greatest challenges, officials said. Winners receiving a cash award and Certificate of Achievement included:

First place: Carlisle DeJulius, The University of Akron, received the Barbara Grosz STEM Student Achievement Award for her vision to innovate in the area of bacterial antibiotic resistance

Second place: Maureen Kalimba Isimbi, Tufts University, received the Peter Stone STEM Student Achievement Award for her mobile application to help bolster education in Rwanda

Nicole Devitt, University of Delaware, received the Bill Kroyer STEM Student Achievement Award for most inspiring essay

Additional winners included: • Sam Alberts, Purdue University • Marissa Dusek, Southern Methodist University • Hattie Greydanus, Calvin College • Lauren Henderson, Villanova University • Emily Osman, Southern Methodist University • Jessica Peebles, University of Arizona • Francine Reyes Vega, University of Puerto Rico.

Following that gathering, the U.S. Army and the Society of Women Engineers staged a national conference at the downtown Austin Convention Center from Oct. 26-28. For the U.S. Army, the gathering highlighted its commitment to STEM education by forging the alliance with SWE, officials said.

The convention was billed as the world’s largest conference and career fair for women in engineering and technology, attended by more than 10,000 women in various stages of their engineering careers. U.S. Army officials noted that women today make up about 17 percent of their ranks, and 20 percent of the Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, which is one of the most esteemed engineering schools in the country.

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“We are proud to begin a partnership with an organization that is dedicated to the advancement of women in STEM careers,” said Lt. Col. Michelle Nhambure, program manager for the U.S. Army Marketing and Research Group. “The Army understands the importance of women in STEM careers and is at the forefront of many of today’s innovations in science and technology. Our hope is to inform young women at the conference of the variety of career choices the Army offers within STEM fields – and SWE is the ideal partner with which to elevate professional opportunities for young women.”

Army representatives discussed the many career opportunities and scholarships available through the Army, as well as demonstrate how a STEM career in the military can serve as a foundation for success – both in and out of uniform.

For more information on the more than 150 Army career paths, including in-demand fields such as information technology, engineering and health care, visit

The dual gatherings took place amid heightened efforts to attract more young women to the STEM fields nationwide. A recent working paper by Georgetown University researchers assessed what drives women choosing a STEM major to switch to other fields of study. The findings, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, yielded a complex answer involving myriad factors — the environment, perception of the major, grades and more.

The Georgetown University study also dispelled past theories positing the reasons for the dearth of women in STEM fields. “Only when women are in a male-dominated STEM field are they more responsive than men to the negative feedback of low grades,” researchers wrote in the paper, titled “Choice of Majors: Are Women Really Different from Men?”

A co-author of the study, Adriana D. Kugler who’s a professor at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy, said negative feedback in the form of bad grades affected male and female undergraduates’ decision equally in opting to exit from a STEM field. Yet the trend was unique to STEM and not other male dominated fields and only in STEM. This finding led researchers to conclude that attitudes and perceptions about the field are an key additional factor.

For more information about the NXP Foundation, click here. For more information on the NXP Foundation Women’s STEM Leadership Forum and Women’s STEM Student Achievement Award, visit here.

About NXP Semiconductors:

NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ:NXPI) enables secure connections and infrastructure for a smarter world, advancing solutions that make lives easier, better and safer. As the world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, NXP is driving innovation in the secure connected vehicle, end-to-end security & privacy and smart connected solutions markets. Built on more than 60 years of combined experience and expertise, the company has 31,000 employees in more than 33 countries and posted revenue of $9.5 billion in 2016. Find out more at

About NXP Foundation:

Founded in 2013, the NXP Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting advancement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. We support initiatives that improve diversity in STEM, with a special focus on women and underrepresented groups.

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