Celebrating Women in Engineering


The first Women in Engineering Banquet, sponsored by the Dubuque, Iowa-based Durrant Group, was recently held at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to spotlight women in the school's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program.

According to Kevin Eipperle, managing principal for Durrant's Dubuque office, it's the goal of the 300-employee engineering firm, whose ranks are made up of many UWP alumni, to help diversify the workforce.

"This was a great event. I think it accomplished a lot. I am pleasantly surprised at the turnout; it shows me how strong the program is," said Eipperle.

Kimberly Marinelli, a UWP grad and former Durrant engineer, was the night's keynote speaker. In her speech, Marinelli, who currently works with TCI Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Inc. as a structural designer, addressed what female students can expect in entering male-dominated fields. She encouraged them to be confident, express themselves and find a supportive network in the workplace. She added that mentor programs and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) provide excellent opportunities.

One of the graduating UWP engineers, Dominique Detloff Friebel, also shared her experience in the STEM program, noting she originally learned about engineering at the UWP Women in Engineering Summer Camp she attended as a junior in high school. "After the first time, I knew I wanted to be an engineer," said Friebel.

Carol Sue Butts, the UWP provost and vice chancellor, added she sees many future leaders in engineering. "These students have not only survived. but also thrived. They can make a tremendous impact on the future," she said.

According to Tammy Salmon-Stephens, the director of UWP's Women in Engineering Program, the event reiterated how important the offering is to their students. "The speakers provided inspiration and hope, recognizing that everyone has struggled, and encouraged students to hang in there," said Salmon-Stephens.

She also hopes the event will motivate other UWP alumni to get involved or continue to be involved with UWP and help girls realize that careers in the STEM fields are really doable.

May UWP STEM graduates include Elizabeth Bortz of Portage; Kay Burchell of Onalaska; Nicole Busse of Waseca, Minn.; Mali Butteris of Westby; Adelene Dunleavy of Cambridge, Minn.; Tara Fahey of Cottage Grove, Minn.; Friebel of Geneseo, Ill.; Jamie Rott of Spring Green; Emily Schiefelbein of Osseo; and Candace Thelen of La Farge. December graduates will include Anne M. Broessel of Glen Haven; Deborah Cottrill of Milwaukee; Petrina Eger of Woodbury, Minn.; Nicole Hansen of Green Bay; Jackie Kohn of Platteville; Rachael Lehr of Appleton; and Laura Nowicki of Oshkosh.

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