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Villanova University's College of Engineering a Leader in Changing the Demographic in Engineering Education

Number of women in incoming class, on faculty well above national average;

Innovative youth programs foster interest in engineering as a career

Sept. 28, 2009

VILLANOVA, PA., September 28, 2009 – Villanova University’s College of Engineering has become a trailblazer as an advocate for women in the profession and as a regional leader in changing the demographic in engineering education.

With women making up 18 percent of its tenured/tenure track faculty at Villanova (compared to the national average of 12.3 percent) and 32 percent of its incoming class (compared to the national average of 17.9 percent), the University has pulled ahead of the pack in promoting careers for women engineers.

“The College has succeeded in recruiting highly competitive female students and faculty because of a culture that combines rigorous academic studies with a wide range of growth and leadership opportunities on campus and service around the world,” said Gary Gabriele, Dean of Villanova’s College of Engineering.

The Villanova University College of Engineering also offers a full complement of outreach programs designed to spark the interest of minority secondary school students from the tri-state area and affect curriculum change. These innovative programs include:

  • BEST: The College partners with the School District of Philadelphia to help teachers and students prepare for participation in the Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Robotics Competition. Villanova University is the Mid-Atlantic Region’s host for the BEST competition. VU students host and run the program's kick-off event on campus and final competition, which takes place at the High School of the Future in West Philadelphia.
  • VESTED: Through the VESTED Program (Villanova Engineering, Science and Technology Enrichment and Development), middle and high school students come to Villanova’s campus to attend lectures, do experiments, receive college-prep training and work closely with University student mentors.
  • NCTL (The National Center for Technological Literacy): Villanova recently established a formal relationship with the National Center for Technological Literacy at the Boston Museum of Science to strengthen the introduction of engineering education in K-12 classrooms in Southeastern Pa. The program is designed to bolster engineering curriculum innovation in Pennsylvania, implement development activities for teachers and bring greater awareness to STEM professions among K-12 students
  • GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs): Villanova’s College of Engineering is working with the School District of Philadelphia on teacher development, using the NCTL curriculum to prepare teachers to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects to GEAR UP students. The program reaches approximately 1,400 eighth graders and will follow them through their senior years.
  • LEAD: Beginning in summer 2010, the LEAD program (Leadership Education and Development Program) comes to Villanova University. By hosting the LEAD program, Villanova joins an elite group of universities, including Cal-Berkley, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Michigan.

“The College conducts outreach to middle and high schools to engage students who may never have considered engineering as a course of study or as a career. Engineering excites students and shows them the connection between the human-created world and abstract math and science,” Dean Gabriele remarked.

“This connection is especially important for students from backgrounds in which there may be no family or friends who are engineers. Ultimately our goal is to help increase the number of engineers from all backgrounds because, given changing demographics of the workplace and the growth of global competition, people from all backgrounds must have full access to the field,” he added.

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.