Michigan Engineering News

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Encouraging tomorrow’s engineers

The Marian Engineering Scholarship Fund helps inspire future women in engineering.

Although Michigan Engineering has long been a leader in graduating female engineers, the percentage of women in engineering overall has been slow to grow. The Society of Women Engineers reports that the percentage of employed engineers who are women rose from 10% to 14% from 2001 to 2019, for a gain of less than 5% in nearly 20 years.

More young women may now consider an undergraduate education at Michigan Engineering an option, thanks to the Marian Engineering Scholarship Fund established by Shyam (PhD ChE ‘73) and Kathy Suchdeo (MPH ‘71).

Born and raised in Detroit, Kathy attended Marian High School, an all-girls school in Birmingham, Mich. As a student there, she found herself drawn to STEM subjects, but didn’t at that time have the guidance needed to see it as a viable career path.

“I was very science-oriented,” Kathy said. “I could have been an engineer, but it wasn’t introduced or encouraged in many women. We hope that with our scholarship, more young women will see their potential recognized and feel supported in being engineers.”

“On the whole, we want to see more women in Engineering,” Shyam added. “It brings more balance, and I think it’s good for society in general. So it gives us great pleasure connecting Marian High School and Michigan Engineering to encourage more women in STEM.”

The Suchdeos say their own studies at Michigan wouldn’t have been possible without scholarship and fellowship support. They have since paid this generosity forward by endowing a scholarship and fellowship fund, each named after one of their mentors from their early academic and professional careers.

The girl scouts visited campus as part of an outreach program by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
Girl Scouts visit campus as part of an outreach program by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Photo: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

“We choose to honor our mentors—it’s that simple!” Shyam said.

To connect with the students they’re helping, they recently met over Zoom with some of their scholarship and fellowship recipients. They also met with a group of students who attend Michigan Engineering and who graduated from Marian, to better understand their journey to U-M.

“Our success in no small part is based on folks who supported us, guided us, encouraged us—who lifted us on their shoulders,” said Shyam.