KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 4, 2021
Lori Lowder readily admits the road to STEM isn’t always straight.
Some students don’t fully realize their passion for the field until they begin their undergraduate studies, where many of them encounter mentors who help shape their futures and guide them on the path toward success. Such was the case for Lowder, a professor of mechanical engineering in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, who originally wanted to pursue a medical career until learning the social impact of engineers.
Intent on seeking a career in which she can improve the lives of others, Lowder initially decided that she wanted to attend medical school. To make her medical school application more competitive, someone recommended that she earn a degree in engineering, and she obliged.
It wasn’t until she arrived at the Georgia Institute of Technology that she began to see the social impact of engineering and shifted gears to focus more heavily on the field. She would earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in bioengineering.
To encourage more women to not only pursue STEM but also complete their degree programs, universities have to build toward a more welcoming environment in which others feel a sense of belonging, Lowder said. Aiming to improve gender diversity among its own programs, KSU’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology has introduced several initiatives designed with student success at its core.
Recently, the University was awarded nearly $1 million by the NSF to support scholarships and wraparound services for engineering students in an effort to increase recruitment, retention and graduation of high achieving, low-income students. Part of the programmatic support will come in the form of guidance and focused efforts by SPCEET faculty, advisors and staff, and industry partners to cultivate a broader sense of community among the students and improve gender diversity in engineering, Lowder said.
– Travis Highfield
Photos by Judith Pishnery
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.