Marian University’s E. S. Witchger School of Engineering Awarded Prestigious Clare Boothe Luce Grant

by Glendal Jones | Nov 28, 2022

There is some tremendous news for Marian University’s E. S. Witchger School of Engineering. Starting in Fall 2023, a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Clare Boothe Luce Program for Women in STEM (CBL) will offer Clare Boothe Luce scholarships to junior and senior female engineering students. According to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), less than 22% of engineering degrees are awarded to women nationally. This gender participation gap intensifies the growing need for technical talent to meet workforce demands nationally and in the Midwest.

“We are proud and pleased to receive the Clare Boothe Luce award for female engineering students who are underrepresented and whom we are trying to attract, Binh Tran Ph.D., dean of the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering said.  Dr. Tran will serve as the principal investigator on the grant along with co-investigators, Dr. Hansika Sirikumara and Professor Tanja Greene.

The grant, named after Clare Boothe Luce who was a trailblazer in the arts, journalism, and public affairs, bequeathed support for women in science, technology, engineering and math, (STEM), fields specifically in underrepresented areas. The new $300,000 grant will support six Clare Boothe Luce scholars over a period of three years. Luce scholars will receive mentorship through an academic-industry partnership model and lead workshops and mentor K-12 female students interested in STEM, specifically engineering. That’s great news for Marian Engineering Student Gretchen Waning ’25.

 “This is an important step to attract more women into STEM careers, especially engineering. I think it’s admirable that the Clare Boothe Luce Program supports women from diverse backgrounds.”

Also building upon its highly successful summer engineering high school camp offering, the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering will expand engineering outreach efforts to K-8 students through quarterly workshops and peer-mentoring activities led by the school’s Clare Boothe Luce scholars. Research shows that many girls begin to lose interest in STEM in middle school. The lack of female role models further presents a challenge to pursuit of careers in engineering for girls. These workshops intend to address both challenges to broadening participation in engineering for K-12 students. CBL scholars will receive invaluable experiences in leadership and service. 

As part of the grant, Marian University has a five-year goal of increasing female enrollment from 30% to 50% in the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering and nearly doubling the national average of degrees awarded to women. The program also wants to improve Marian’s advising to become more transformative and less transactional to help women discern their career aims and how to achieve them.


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