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NEWS | March 20, 2019

NSWC Crane employees empower young women of color to pursue STEM careers

By NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) employees actively participate in an organization designed to empower young women of color (WoC) to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The I CAN PERSIST (ICP) STEM initiative is a new, year-long program at Indiana University that aims to promote STEM persistence among girls and WoC.

Adriann Wilson, a Mechanical Engineer at NSWC Crane, volunteers as an ICP Professional Affiliate and mentors area high school, undergraduate, and graduate students at monthly Empowerment dinners.

“Through these dinners, we create a space where students have access to visible representations of resilient and successful STEM professionals, discuss career development and planning, and collaboratively create a vision of actionable steps to increase representation of women of color in these fields and careers,” says Wilson.

One undergraduate student says she felt empowered when Wilson shared her journey into STEM.

“Adriann made me realize that sometimes being successful can be as simple as putting myself out there,” says the student. “Any opportunity she came across, she took it."

Dr. Kerrie Wilkins-Yel, the Program Director of the ICP STEM initiative, says Wilson has served as an incredible Professional Affiliate over the last few months.

“Her impact goes well beyond these dinners as well,” says Dr. Wilkins-Yel. “Just last month one of scholars applied for the Cyber Scholarship from the Department of Defense. Both Adriann’s wisdom regarding going after opportunities and her unique experience in a federal career has left an indelible mark on our scholars.

According to the National Science Foundation, minority women in 2012 made up small percentages of graduates receiving degrees in STEM fields. For instance, minority women represent only 3.1 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering.

“The program helps keep students on track to become a STEM professional,” says Wilson. “Students have an understanding of what to expect when they enter the workforce or research labs. They can ask questions face-to-face they may not have the opportunity otherwise.”

Wilson says it has impacted her perspective as a STEM professional at NSWC Crane.

“Being involved makes me more aware to develop and set a good example for these students,” says Wilson. “You don’t know what you don’t know. There are opportunities right here at Crane for students to grow as a STEM professional, and through this program they can have more confidence in their future careers.”

Wilson says it is critical to show young girls they have a place in STEM fields.

“We need more women in STEM,” says Wilson. “To do this, it’s important to encourage them to persist and get through college. Once they finish their degrees, they’ll be able to use their skills and create meaningful impact.”

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.