Kettering shines new LITE on careers for women

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Getting a cast put on an arm is not normally a fun activity, but for 35 young women in the Kettering Orthopaedics Laboratory at Flint's McLaren Hospital last week, it was a blast. Learning about the materials designed by engineers and used by the medical field was the first exercise for participants in the Lives Improved Through Engineering (LITE) program at Kettering University.

"The hands-on aspect of this program made it sound like a lot of fun," said Emily Bailey, of Owosso, Mich., I like how it applies engineering to the human body and not to just cars and other kinds of machines." LITE classmate Emily James added "I want to do something (professionally) to influence people's lives. It's nice to know that there are other girls my age interested in math and science too," said James, of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Both Emilys echo the sentiments of many women working or studying engineering. "Women's interest in engineering fields is based on their ability to impact people's lives," said Betsy Homsher, director of Women Student Affairs at Kettering. Focused on bioengineering, the LITE program is tailor-made to suit women's tastes in engineering. Research shows that women enter engineering disciplines with a goal of affecting the everyday lives of individuals, such as designing safety equipment and medical devices.

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Kettering's newest pre-college program is for girls entering their senior year of high school. LITE offers them an opportunity to spend two weeks at Kettering exploring bioengineering careers, working with women engineers and scientists in classroom and laboratory settings and meeting other young women interested in science and technology. In addition, there are "road trips" to visit related industries, graduate schools and medical school facilities. Participants were housed on campus with current Kettering female students as mentors.

The first LITE class includes 35 young women from 15 states across the U.S. Chosen from more than 100 applicants, these young women represent high standards of academic and personal achievement.

The LITE program is sponsored by a $400, 000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and corporate sponsors including Verizon, TRW, Ford, Biomet, William Beaumont Hospital, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, Comerica, General Motors, Guidant Foundation, Hougen Manufacturing, Lyn St. James Foundation, and funding from alumni and friends of Kettering University. NSF funds will support scholarship offers to attend Kettering for young women who excel in the LITE program.

For more information about the LITE program, contact Betsy Homsher, director of Women Student Affairs at Kettering, at 810-762-9450 or via e-mail at

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Written by Dawn Hibbard
(810) 762-9865