In 2015, only 13.2 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering were earned by women, according to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Almost 5 years later, although we have made major strides as a society to increase this number, there is still a lot of work to be done. The Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) Department at FIU is working towards changing this statistic. The Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) Department is proud to have one of the highest percentages of women faculty members in the College of Engineering and Computing.
Research has shown that having a female role model has a powerful positive effect on women’s performance in STEM-related courses. The presence of accomplished women who serve as faculty members serves as inspiration for women who are pursuing degrees in these pervasively male-dominated fields.
Currently, the MME department hosts a total of 6 women faculty members who come from distinct backgrounds and each brings a unique perspective to the table, bridging from their individual experiences and qualities.
Dr. Chunlei (Peggy) Wang joined FIU in 2006 following her time at the University of California Irvine and Osaka University where she held various research positions. She received her Ph.D. in Solid State Physics, Masters, and a bachelor’s degree from Jilin University in China. Her research group focuses on areas ranging from carbon microelectromechanical systems (C-MEMS) based bio-sensing to micro-supercapacitors to advance human technology.
Dr. Daniela Radu joined FIU in 2018 as part of FIU’s inaugural FIU’s Diversity Mentor Professor Initiative. The Diversity Mentor Professor Initiative is aimed at recruiting multiple excellent STEM faculty with strong research backgrounds who have a history of and commitment to the mentorship of women and underrepresented minority students in STEM, particularly Hispanic-American and African American students. Prior to joining the MME faculty, Radu was an associate professor at Delaware State University, an HBCU (historically black college and university) where she was a mentor to many students and junior faculty members. She also devoted several years to serve in her role as an industrial scientist at the DuPont Experimental Station’s Central Research Department in the Division of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Radu has also recently been named the head of the Center for Research and Education in 2D Optoelectronics (CRE2DO) and received a $3 million grant from NASA to research materials that can “withstand the extreme environment of space”. Read more on FIU News (https://news.fiu.edu/2019/nasa-awards-fiu-3-million-for-research-into-materials-to-support-mars-and-space-exploration-efforts)
Dr. Ju Sun joined FIU in 2004 following a one-year postdoctoral training at the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas Medical Branch. She received her Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stony Brook University in New York. Prior to her time at Stony Brook, she received her BS in Thermal Engineering from the Beijing University of Technology, China. In her role as the University Instructor within the department, she teaches various undergraduate courses including statics and dynamics.
Ms. Carmen Schenck is a two-time FIU alumna who has been continually commended for her service and dedication to the FIU engineering community. Schenck received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from FIU. She has served 26 years in the FIU community. In addition to her role as Senior Instructor and Advisor where she oversees hundreds of MME undergraduate students, Ms. Schenck also leads various secondary school informative sessions pertaining to pursuing a degree in engineering at FIU. She shares her experience being an FIU engineering alumna and the various doors opened as a result of pursuing a degree in STEM. As a result of her efforts, the MME department has seen an increase in enrollment and retention. She has also received a Tau Beta Pi Certificate of Appreciation for her dedication and support of engineering students throughout her time at FIU.
Dr. Carmen Muller joined FIU in 2016 as an academic advisor and is now serving as an instructor in the MME department where she teaches courses such as applied mechanics, statics and dynamics to hundreds of undergraduate students. Prior to receiving her Ph.D. in biomechanical engineering at the Central University of Venezuela, she received her masters at the University of Virginia and a bachelors at Simón Bolívar University in mechanical engineering.
Dr. Alicia Boymelgreen joined FIU as a visiting faculty member in the fall of 2019. Dr. Boymelgreen received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Israel Institute of Technology. Prior to her time at the Israel Institute of Technology, she received her master’s at Tel Aviv University and her bachelor’s degree at Monash University. Dr. Boymelgreen’s research interests encompass micro/nanofluidic systems and their biological applications including point-of-care diagnostics, lab-on-a-chip technology, colloidal transport and dynamic assembly of reconfigurable materials as well as bottom-up microfluidic chip design and the intersection of micro/nanofabrication with additive manufacturing. “I’ve always loved science and I chose to be an engineer because I wanted to advance the practical application of new technology. Being a woman in STEM at a time where formally, women have equal opportunity but in actuality, this is not being realized, I am passionate about promoting diversity through mentorship” says Dr. Boymelgreen when asked about her journey as a woman pursuing a career in STEM.
The MME Department is working on advancing women faculty in engineering in hopes that a higher percentage of women in engineering fields might lead to innovation, creativity, and an all-around more inclusive community.