Agents of Positive Change: Highlighting Women Maryland Engineers

The A. James Clark School of Engineering is dedicated to promoting the indelible impact of women in engineering. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we highlight some of the important contributions of women engineers within our campus community to the Clark School, the university, and the world.

headshot of Kruti Bhingradiya

Kruti Bhingradiya is a senior aerospace engineering major with a minor in robotics and autonomous systems. She is particularly excited about her work in soft robotics, a discipline she says has the potential to revolutionize industries, from healthcare to manufacturing. Along with two other Clark School students, Bhingradiya was named among the 2024 20 Twenties by Aviation Week Network, honoring the brightest, most driven aerospace-bound STEM students in their 20s. “This recognition for me is about redefining possibilities, ensuring representation, and increasing awareness about opportunities and resources for underrepresented students in aerospace engineering, especially gender minorities and international students,” she said. Bhingradiya also led the aerospace engineering team to victory in the 2024 Alumni Cup competition.

headshot of Hailey Chawla

Computer engineering sophomore Hailey Chawla has been “hands-on” for as long as she can remember: from putting together 100-piece puzzles, pieces face down, as a toddler to building electric race cars in high school; and from recently replacing the alternator in her family car to excelling in her labs at the Clark School. “What I have learned is that my gender does not define what I am capable of,” she said. “It is my experiences and my passion and drive to learn—and not be afraid to get my hands dirty—that allow me to bring a unique perspective to my academic and career path.”

headshot of Victoriia Grabovetska

Originally from Ukraine, Victoriia Grabovetska is a mechanical engineering major working toward her graduate degree in reliability engineering as a student in the combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree Program. In the Systems Risk and Reliability Analysis Lab, she has been assisting with a failure modes and effects analysis for water electrolysis systems—exciting work, she says, because of the broader implications for hydrogen infrastructure implementation and safety in the U.S. Grabovetska spends her summers as an intern at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division and is grateful to be part of the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program from the Department of Defense. She says Associate Professor Katrina Groth’s “enthusiasm, passion, and willingness to teach” is an inspiration to her, as she learns and grows “both as a person and an engineer.”

headshot of Marisol Hernandez

Marisol Hernandez is a civil and environmental engineering senior with a passion for community-building. She has been involved in Women in Engineering (WIE) since her freshman year, when she joined the Flexus living and learning community. Hernandez is also involved in engineering sorority Alpha Omega Epsilon and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). She is currently planning a Latinas in Engineering Panel for SHPE, “an opportunity for Latinas in the Clark School to network and learn about what could lie ahead for them,” she said. Hernandez will receive the 2024 Kim Borsavage and Pamela J. Stone Student Award for Outstanding Service at the annual Dean’s Awards Ceremony on April 29.

headshot of Grace Herron

Bioengineering sophomore and Clark School Ambassador Grace Herron credits her love of bioengineering to Associate Professor Catherine Kuo, a Fischell Fellow in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. Kuo’s class BIOE120: Biology for Engineers had a lasting effect on Herron. “Aside from being a great educator, she is also a spectacular mentor who has supported my identity as an engineer,” Herron said of Kuo. In addition to her studies, Herron has been involved with the CIVICUS living and learning program, with WIE, and as a ClarkLEADER. She works as a lab assistant to the Public Health Aerobiology Lab, which studies infectious diseases in exhaled breath led by Professor of Environmental Health Donald Milton.

headshot of Mia Jocic

Passionate about health equity and inspired by research aimed at elevating health experiences for women, bioengineering sophomore Mia Jocic is excited to continue her work with the UMaryland iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine) competition, in addition to her studies and involvement with WIE. The iGEM team is working to develop CerviCare, a paper-based cervical precancer screening tool to be used in lower- to middle-income countries. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Ed Eisenstein and Associate Professor Jason Kahn, the team plans to present its work at the 2024 iGEM Grand Jamboree, the World Expo of Synthetic Biology, in Paris, France. “This project allows me to combine my interests in synthetic biology and health equity engineering to reduce barriers associated with reproductive healthcare,” she said.

headshot of Hannah Lee

Bioengineering senior and Clark School Ambassador Hannah Lee has filled her time at the university balancing academics with engaging with the Maryland Engineering community. She credits WIE for helping her find her people. She was a member of Flexus, the two-year living and learning community for women. “Having the opportunity to live on a floor with other engineers [during the pandemic] was such an integral part of my freshman year,” she said. Through the Sheila Rohra WIE Connect Peer Mentoring Program, she has served as mentee, peer mentor, and peer mentor coordinator throughout her years on campus, relationships she says have encouraged her personal and professional growth. Lee has also held leadership roles in the UMD student chapter of Society of Women Engineers.

headshot of Adeline Onwubalili

First year civil engineering major and member of the Clark Scholars Class of ’27 Adeline Onwubalili has a passion for the construction industry and sustainable infrastructure. Well into her first year as a Maryland engineer, Onwubalili is excited to be working with her Clark Scholars team on a project aimed at filtering out copper—which can be harmful to aquatic life—from campus waterways using phytoremediation. She’s also using CAD, 3D-printing, and the woodshop to design an over terrain vehicle with her team in ENES100: Introduction to Engineering Design. She credits the Black Engineers Society (BES) for helping her get accustomed to life at UMD. “Even though I am usually one of the three Black people in my classes, BES would remind me of the community I have on campus.”

headshot of Divya

Maryland Applied Graduate Engineering student Divya desires to make a difference through technology and is particularly motivated to create meaningful software solutions. One personal project the computer software engineering student is proud of is a free job forum she developed during the pandemic, which connected more than 10,000 job seekers and more than 500 industry recruiters. In recognition of her academic excellence, Divya was recently honored with membership in the UMD chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She says it can be challenging to navigate spaces where women are underrepresented. “But it's rewarding to break stereotypes and contribute to a future where engineering is inclusive and diverse,” she said

headshot of Siriwipa Kamma

Originally from Thailand, Siriwipa Kamma ’23 is a master’s student in the Department of Fire Protection Engineering (FPE), who works with the Materials Flammability research group under the guidance of Professor Stanislav Stoliarov. Kamma studies the transport properties of flexible polyurethane foam, a material commonly used in upholstery and mattresses. “In FPE, creating a safe environment is our main goal,” she said. During her undergraduate studies, Kamma was the recipient of the Spring 2023 Outstanding Senior Award and served as a teaching fellow for ENFP250: Introduction to Life Safety Analysis. In the long term, Kamma plans to become an instructor of fire safety engineering to give back to the community of educators who taught her.

headshot of Fionna Long

For Maryland Applied Graduate Engineering student Fionna Long, civil engineering provides the best of both worlds, allowing her to explore her love for math and physics and her passion for art and creativity. With a goal to become a professional engineer, she plans to put her project management studies to good use benefitting society—while being a positive role model for young women of color interested in STEM. “Instead of thinking of myself as an anomaly in this traditionally male-dominated field,” she said, “I like to see myself as part of a growing movement to make civil engineering a more diverse and inclusive industry.”

headshot of Nicole Mogul

Nicole Mogul is a senior lecturer in the Clark School, where she is also the assistant director of the Science, Technology and Society Scholars program. She says growing up in Washington, D.C., helped her see things from the perspective of competing interest groups. In her role as engineering teacher, she loves creating role plays and immersive experiences to help students understand—and gain empathy for—project and product stakeholders. A past recipient of the A. James Clark School Outstanding Faculty Service Award, the selection committee called Mogul one of the most innovative educators in the Clark School, for bringing new pedagogy to courses in the Science, Technology, and Society Scholars program and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

headshot of Lourdes Salamanca-Riba

Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering Lourdes Salamanca-Riba has served as the Clark School’s Diversity Council Chair and been selected for the university’s ADVANCE Program for Inclusive Excellence, preceding current ADVANCE Professor Alisa Clyne. She continues to make critical contributions to the Maryland Engineering community through her teaching, research, and service. With a desire to help assistant professors and peers be successful in their careers, Salamanca-Riba knows community—and persistence—is key. “Being a woman is difficult in a male dominated field,” she says. “You have to constantly prove to others that you are as good as they are.”

headshot of Paige Smith

Over more than two decades at the university, Paige Smith aims to make engineering a more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive field for women and other students underrepresented in engineering. Since becoming director of WIE in 2001, the number of women majoring in engineering has grown by 77 percent, while the number of women earning bachelor’s degrees in the field has increased by 180 percent. Smith has also had a long tenure on the President’s Commission on Women’s Issues. In 2022, she was honored with the President’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of exceptional performance, leadership, and service.

Clark School Resources

Established in 1995 through a grant from the Sloan Foundation, the Clark School’s Women in Engineering (WIE) Program aims to produce engineers who value every voice and mobilize the power of community to thrive locally and globally as fearless agents of positive change. Led by Paige Smith and a talented team dedicated to helping students excel as Maryland engineers, the program coordinates a variety of programs, opportunities, and resources to support and enhance the development of students from diverse backgrounds—from pre-college outreach to undergraduate and graduate school recruitment and retention efforts. WIE is also home to the student section of the Society of Women Engineers, the world’s largest organization for women in engineering.

The Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering (CMSE) and its committed staff provide a unique combination of academic, financial, and social support systems to help create a culture in which all students have access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed. Led by Rosemary Parker, CMSE is also home to the Black Engineers Society, the student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, and the UMD chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

The Clark School Diversity Council compiled a list of Clark School and campus-wide resources in support of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The Diversity Council and departmental DEI committees work to improve DEI efforts and amplify the voices of underrepresented students, faculty, staff, and graduates.

2024 Events at Maryland

Each year, UMD’s Adele H. Stamp Student Union Center for Campus Life coordinates a campus-wide calendar of events to commemorate Women’s History Month. Learn more and get involved.

Published March 15, 2024