May 8, 2023
More than 36 million people in the United States alone hold positions that require science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) knowledge and expertise, yet diversity and inclusion in the engineering workforce remains scarce. According to demographic data in the most recent Science & Engineering Indicators report, women represent 34% of the STEM workforce, while Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Alaska Natives collectively represent 23%.1
Ansys is dedicated to closing diversity gaps through inclusion-centered initiatives that offer global support to STEM education and awareness. In addition to the Ansys Academic Program, which provides universities with affordable simulation software for use in the classroom or in research, Ansys cultivates mentorship opportunities and outreach to encourage STEM education for learners of all ages and at all levels. Additionally, Ansys fosters an inclusive environment internally with employee resource groups (ERGs) that help raise STEM awareness within underrepresented populations. Ansys ERGs include the Black Employee Network, (dis)Ability Network, Latino Connection, Women in Tech, Pride Alliance, and Veterans at Ansys.
Recently, several Ansys employees and ERG members participated in events in different cities to promote diversity in engineering and encourage broader demographic representation in STEM-related fields.
Nearly a dozen Ansys employees visited the Young Men and Women In Charge Foundation, Inc. (YMWIC) on March 4 to participate in its 12th Annual Science Expo. YMWIC is a nonprofit dedicated to increasing workforce diversity by preparing underserved youth for STEM careers through events, programs for K-12 students, college scholarships, and internships.
To compete at the Expo, YMWIC scholars must select a science project topic in advance, as well as meet specific requirements to submit their project — including creating a research plan, lab report, project board, and PowerPoint presentation. Students must also defend their project at the Science Expo before a panel of industry judges.
Ansys was on-site to support students from grades 3-12 as they presented their projects and applied scientific methods to a wide range of engineering challenges. Student presentations ranged from measuring the surface tension of water, determining how much sugar is in flavored smoothies, and choosing beverages with the most electrolytes. Ansys employees helped with judging and technical support, as well as giving engaging presentations and talks about the engineering field, different roles within it, and career tips. A keynote address was given by Scott Light, Area Sales Director within Ansys’ Federal Aerospace and Defense (FA&D) team. Light is a member of two ERGs: Veterans at Ansys and the Black Employee Network.
“Wow, what a day. The students were so professional, courteous, and commanded the message of the material that they were presenting,” says Light. “The YMWIC program empowers economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented youth to excel and become leaders within the STEM field. What you heard during the day, over and over, is that you — the student — have a support system to exceed in the world, and you are important. What a great support system.”
Addressing the crowd, Light echoed YMWIC’s spirit of encouragement by offering a few pieces of advice, including how to overcome doubt, discover multiple ways to reach your goals, and recognize that we each have a mission and all missions are possible. Light engaged students by explaining some of these points through real-life engineering scenarios. For example, to exemplify his second point, he discussed how Ansys Systems Tool Kit (STK) digital mission engineering software was used by NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) to plan Earth’s first planetary defense satellite test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).
“In a space mission, you are recalibrating all along the way to meet your mission objective,” he explained to students. “Similarly, there are multiple ways to reach your goals.”
Light captivated students by demonstrating other space-related analogies using physical objects such as tennis balls to illustrate asteroids.
Ellie Monaco, Senior Manager of Talent Management at Ansys, witnessed the excitement from both students and families firsthand.
“Several moments really moved me at the event, especially seeing families beaming with pride as their children presented their projects,” says Monaco.
Other highlights for Monaco included watching the students’ excitement during Light’s presentation and seeing female students listen intently as Lauren Krapf, Enterprise Account Manager on Ansys’ FA&D team, discussed her career as an aerospace engineer. As a member of Ansys’ Women in Tech ERG, Krapf is passionate about creating more opportunities for women in STEM.
“I truly believe that exposure is everything. Without exposure to enough options, including careers in STEM, students cannot know what they might be interested in and what they are capable of,” she says. “Underrepresented populations tend not to have as many opportunities for casual exposure so we must be intentional about creating them.”
Brittani Griffin, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Ansys who helped plan Ansys’ participation in the YMWIC event, agrees that exposure is a key ingredient to increasing diversity in STEM. Griffin is a leader of Ansys’ Black Employee Network ERG and also a member of the Pride Alliance ERG.
“There is value in exposure, and that is exactly what STEM outreach provides for underrepresented populations,” she says. “Unfortunately, STEM education isn’t always accessible in public school systems, causing a lack of awareness to the endless career opportunities in the field. The STEM outreach that Ansys is participating in is truly inspiring the next generation of engineers.”
Ansys was also on hand again at the 49th Annual Convention of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) from March 22–26. NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of students and technical professionals in engineering and technology through camps, programs, and events. Its annual convention attracts more than 10,000 attendees for professional and personal development through networking, competitions, and other activities.
Ansys’ year-round STEM efforts can be seen through other initiatives, including but not limited to American Corporate Partners (ACP) mentoring program for veterans and active-duty spouses; Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Samstha’s Cummins College of Engineering for Women (the first all-women engineering college in India); the Pittsburgh Technology Council, STEM Summit; Society of Women Engineers mentoring network; and oSTEM, a nonprofit professional organization for LGBTQ+ people in the STEM community.
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