Kathryn Beeman, an Electrical Engineering undergrad, has been named an Irma M. Wyman Scholar from the Center for Education for Women. The award recognizes her contributions as a leader in the U-M chapter of the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) to support women in STEM and improve gender equity in STEM fields.
“In high school, I was passionate about mentoring and engaging middle school girls in STEM,” Beeman said. “I joined SWE because I wanted to continue that effort, and it’s given me such a nice community.”
Beeman has held multiple leadership roles in SWE, and she currently serves as the External Vice President. She coordinated the U-M chapter’s attendance at this year’s National Conference, where they took home the top award, Collegiate Gold, as well as Best Practice: Globalization and Best Practice: Public Policy.
“One thing we’re really trying to focus on is intersectionality,” Beeman said. “We want to do more to support and empower women of color. We’re also open to anyone regardless of gender identity. As long as you support the mission of empowering women in engineering, you’re more than welcome to join.”
One thing we’re really trying to focus on is intersectionality.Kathryn Beeman
Beeman said her favorite aspect of serving as a leader is mentoring young members and encouraging more women to take leadership positions.
“It’s really rewarding, because that’s what happened with me,” Beeman said. “My friend told me she thought I’d make a good officer, and that was really empowering. It means a lot when you’re a freshman or sophomore to have someone from the Executive Board encourage you, and I love doing that for others.”
The award is named after U-M alum, Irma Wyman (BSE EngMath ’49), who was a pioneer in the field of computers, beginning with her work on some of the earliest programmable machines ever made. She also served as the first female vice president at Honeywell.
“It’s a really good feeling to know that I did something in her name,” Beeman said.
Beeman’s father works for General Motors (GM) on the automotive line, and Beeman plans to follow a similar line of work focusing on electric vehicles and helping move us toward a zero-emission future.
“I definitely see myself going into the automotive industry,” she said. “Electric vehicles are cool technology and will really help the environment.”
In addition to electric vehicles, Beeman is interested in semiconductors. She works as a lab assistant for the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility, and enjoys experiencing the real-life application of her studies.
“I didn’t really realize how cool the LNF was until I got into semiconductors,” Beeman said. “To see them actually fabricate and test the kinds of stuff I’m learning in class is just amazing.”
Beeman’s connection to U-M began in middle school thanks to one of her teachers who would arrange Saturday field trips to U-M for girls who were interested in STEM. The teacher, a U-M alum, would arrange for the students to have hands-on activities and tours of labs on campus.
“She was amazing,” Beeman said. “There’s actually a picture of me here when I was about twelve years old, and I’m working on this breadboard. It’s definitely come full circle.”