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The members of the University of Michigan - Society of Women Engineers (UM-SWE) will travel to the University of Liberia this summer and implement a leadership camp for up to 30 female engineering students in Liberia. The goals of this S.U.C.C.E.S.S. leadership camp are two-fold (i) to empower the Liberian and US women engineers with the skills, support, and inspiration necessary to becoming successful and well-rounded engineering professionals; and (ii) to strengthen the community of female engineers in Liberia by building cross-cultural partnerships among female engineering students resulting in a global network of women engineers.
The synergy between the members of UM-SWE and students in Liberia will span two weeks: (i) the first week will involve the participation of ten members from UM-SWE (that will include both graduate and some undergraduate members) and ten from Liberia (all undergraduate) who will together organize logistics and coordinate activities for (ii) the second week of the program which will be a leadership camp expanded to include a total of 30 Liberian female engineering students participants. This week long leadership camp will have a workshop-based format with two themes: (i) academic and professional skills, and (ii) student organization development. The academic and professional skills sessions will cover topics related to 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 coordinate the development of a strong university SWE Affiliate in Liberia that will further support local development.
The recognition for a need of this leadership camp for the Liberian female engineering students has been a process that has spanned the past three years since the University of Michigan's College of Engineering became a subcontractor to 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.