Flexus Living & Learning Community Honored by Women in Engineering ProActive Network

On June 22, 2016, Flexus: The Dr. Marilyn Berman Pollans Women in Engineering Living & Learning Community was honored with a "Women in Engineering Initiative Award" at the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) 2016 Change Leader Forum in Broomfield, CO.

"The WEPAN Women In Engineering Initiative Award is external recognition of the significance of the University of Maryland's Flexus program," said Paige Smith, director of the A. James Clark School of Engineering's Women in Engineering Program. "Flexus' powerful combination of living and learning enables students to develop a strong sense of community support while gaining technical, career, and leadership skills."

To date, almost 350 women have participated in the Flexus program, whose goal is to create a supportive community aimed at success in engineering. Living in the community helps women engineering majors connect with their peers while creating a setting conducive to study groups, networking, peer tutoring, and a variety of social activities.

Women participating in Flexus are retained or graduated at significantly higher rates than those who do not participate in any living and learning community. From the 2008–2010 Flexus cohorts, on average 85 percent graduated in engineering, compared to a 72 percent graduation rate for all students during the same period. The national average eight-year engineering graduation rate is 55 percent from public universities. (ASEE Prism, Jan. 2015)

"The best part about Flexus is its empathetic design," said Sarah Niezelski, 2016 mechanical engineering alumna and Flexus graduate. "The education, support, mentorship, and friendship we get in Flexus meet us exactly where we are and fulfill significant needs that we all experience. From day one, we were taught about available resources and how to make connections in our departments."

The prestigious annual WEPAN Awards honor key individuals, programs, and corporations. WEPAN’s recognition is based on extraordinary service, significant achievement, and model programs that are aligned with WEPAN's purpose to be a catalyst for transforming culture in engineering education and the workforce to promote the inclusion and success of diverse communities of women.

WEPAN's network connects more than 1,000 leaders from nearly 200 universities, colleges, community colleges, government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and non-profit organizations working to increase participation, retention, and success of women and other underrepresented groups in engineering from engineering college through executive and academic leadership roles.

Published July 18, 2016