Three Kettering women to represent U.S. at international seminar

May 14, 2001

Ahhh, to be young, technically-minded and in Paris now that summer has arrived!

Ahhh, to be young, technically-minded and in Paris now that summer has arrived!

Two Kettering University students have been chosen as part of a 15-member group representing the United States at the first International Institute for Women in Engineering at the EPF Ecole d'Ingeneurs' (EPF) in the Paris suburb of Sceaux, July 1 through 13.

Heather Lindell, senior from Lake Orion, and Maria Falcon, sophomore from Royal Oak, were chosen to participate in the two-week seminar "Engineering Cultures," co-sponsored by the EPF and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). The focus of the institute is to study the cultural, political and economic dimensions of global engineering practices, and the opportunities for women engineers in the global marketplace.

Interested in the possibilities of working and studying abroad, Lindell and Falcon are excited to have been chosen to participate in the event. "I see it as the chance of a lifetime," said Lindell, "I'm not just going to a foreign country to wander around aimlessly, I like that it is very structured and we'll be taking a lot in."

"The fact that it has a global focus, and my co-op employer has facilities in Germany and Japan really piqued my interest," said Falcon. "Just to see how different cultures do things will be interesting," she added. Falcon's co-op employer is Takata in Auburn Hills. The company is based in Japan.

Joining Lindell and Falcon in Paris will be Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering, Dr. Laura Sullivan, who will serve as a panelist for a dialog on balancing work and personal life.

A total of 30 students have been invited to attend, 15 from the U.S., and 15 non-U.S. ERAU was able to secure a National Science Foundation grant to fund the U.S. portion of this first year's program. The grant will pay the seminar fee, travel and lodging costs for U.S. participants.

The goal of the "Engineering Cultures" seminar is to improve students' abilities to understand and assess engineering problem solving in historical and global perspectives.

The seminar will emphasize topics relevant to the immediate and future experiences of the Institute's participants. It will include discussion and analysis of engineering practices and traditions, using the U.S., France, Germany, and the UK as examples. Focus will also be on what it means to be a woman in engineering in different national contexts.

Guest lecture topics and panel discussions will address opportunities for women in science and technology, women and leadership in a global workplace, and challenges and rewards on being a woman in science and technology in a global workplace. Participants will also have an opportunity to visit four companies, including a Japanese company located in Paris, to study their business practices.

Seminar topics include:

  • From Cold War to Competitiveness: A Shift of Dominant Images of the World
  • Women Engineers and Engineers Who Happen to Be Women: An Exercise
  • Corporate Culture in the U.S. and Europe
  • Japanese Perspectives: Be Sure You Suffer Enough
  • British Perspectives: What Counts is Craftmanship
  • Panel discussion: Cultural Conflicts Encountered on the Job
  • French Perspectives: What Counts is Theory
  • Globalization : Opportunities for Women
  • German Perspectives : What Counts is Quality
  • U.S. Perspectives : The Tension between Theory and Practical Knowledge

In addition to the cultural dialog during sessions, participants are encouraged to continue to explore unfamiliar cultures in their free time. "They suggested we eat in a variety of cultural restaurants and spend time with other participants not from our own country," said Lindell.

An integral part of the Women's Institute seminar is the group project. The subject is chosen upon arrival and students are given time throughout the seminar to work on it. Depending on the topic, students undertake research during the site visits, carry out interviews with the seminar leaders and panelists. At the end of the program, the project is presented to the rest of the group. The project represents 20 percent of their grade for the course.

A certificate will be given during an official ceremony at the end of the program. U.S. students will earn three credits in SS399 Women in Global Engineering.

Lindell and Falcon are already calculating the opportunities available to them in the ever-growing global marketplace. "This (the seminar) could really direct where my career goes," said Lindell. "My co-op employer, General Motors, has a lot of opportunities to work overseas," she said.

Falcon, with two to three years left before graduation, is committed to participating in the Kettering studies abroad program. She even has her sights set on the Takata facility in Germany as a possible co-op rotation.

For both Lindell and Falcon the future may be global in scope, but for now, their immediate goal is to pick up as much French as they can by listening to language tapes in the car.

About the sponsoring universities:

EPF Ecole d'Ingenieurs (EPF)

EPF Ecole d'Ingenieurs is a "Grande Ecole," one of France's leading and prestigious higher education institutions, teaching either business or engineering.

These institutions are accredited by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research and, in the case of engineering schools, are accredited by the "Commission des Titres d'Ingenieurs". Students are admitted after a highly selective entrance examination. The Grandes Ecoles award master's level degrees after five years of study.

Founded in 1925 by Marie-Louise Paris, EPF Ecole d'Ingenieurs is one of the first French Grandes Ecoles to educate women for the engineering professions. EPF is accredited by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the "Commission des Titres d'Ingenieurs."

In 1991, EPF acquired the status of Public Foundation, and in 1993 became a member of the Union des Grandes Ecoles. Although EPF has been co-educational since 1994 and no longer spells out its acronym, it is very proud of its feminine history and actively encourages women to enter and excel in all realms of engineering.

EPF is a five-year general engineering school, with the two-year preparatory integrated into the curriculum. Throughout the program, classroom instruction is alternated with obligatory practical internships.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)

ERAU is an independent, coeducational university with a history dating back to the early days of aviation. The university serves culturally diverse students pursuing careers in aviation and aerospace. ERAU has two residential campuses at Prescott, Arizona and Dayton Beach, Florida.

In 1926, John Paul Riddle and T. Higbee Embry founded the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation. The school was instrumental in helping the U.S. meet the demand for skilled aviators and mechanics during World War II. After the war, the school continued to fill the need for pilots and engineers and in 1967, Embry-Riddle became a university.

Currently, Embry-Riddle is a global institution that holds a prominent position in aviation/aerospace education. The university is the world's largest independent aeronautical university and boasts a student body of 22,000 who come from all 50 states and more than 100 nations.

The university offers more than 30 degree programs, with nine offered at the master's level.ERAU strongly encourages students to participate in international exchange and double diploma programs. ERAU students have studied in Mexico, France, Germany, China and several other international destinations.

Written by Dawn Hibbard
Phone: (810) 762-9865
E-mail:dhibbard@kettering.edu