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News Release

November 7, 2007


Jane Gruba-Chevalier, Clayman Institute: (650) 725-0372,

All-female SpelBots robotics team members to visit campus

Members of SpelBots, the nation's only all-female, African American competitive student robotics team, plan to visit campus Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 4:15 to 6:30 p.m. in Room S360 of the Clark Center, 318 Campus Drive. The event is free and open to the public, and middle and high school students are encouraged to attend.

Spelman College students and SpelBot members Whitney O'Banner and Philana Benton will share their personal experiences—and demonstrate their award-winning four-legged robots—in the context of a broader discussion of the impact of gender on engineering education. Spelman Associate Professor Andrew Williams, coach and founder of SpelBots, will accompany the students.

The event, hosted by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, is titled, "Gendered Pathways to Success in Engineering." Although engineering lies at the heart of U.S. economic growth, women earn only 21 percent of engineering degrees. Participants will discuss the importance of encouraging more young women to identify as future engineers, and getting more men to accept them in the profession. Sheri Sheppard, professor of mechanical engineering and a senior research fellow at the Clayman Institute, will moderate the discussion with the SpelBots members and Stanford's Misty Davies and Prajwal Kulkarni, graduate students in mechanical engineering and applied physics, respectively. They will discuss their personal experiences in engineering education and their career-path decisions, and participate in a discussion with the audience.

Sheppard also will discuss results from the Academic Pathways Study, a five-year project she led that explores the developmental, cognitive and institutional factors contributing to student persistence and success in engineering majors. Launched in 2002, the study has followed 160 students from Stanford, Howard University, the University of Minnesota and the Colorado School of Mines from their freshman year of engineering studies through their senior year. The National Science Foundation funded the study through the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education at the University of Washington.

Stanford School of Engineering Dean Jim Plummer will conclude the event by responding to the presentations and panel.



Sheri Sheppard, School of Engineering: (650) 723-1994,

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