Tech firm’s scholarship supports female engineering students

Perla Jiménez

Perla Jimenez said a Knowles scholarship took a “massive weight” off her shoulders. Photo: Elsa Soto

A suburban tech company has committed $100,000 to the College of Engineering to support a scholarship for women engineering students and a summer program for female high school students interested in engineering.

The support from Knowles Corp., an Itasca firm specializing in acoustic electronics, will help the college address the workforce shortage in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Our mission is to ensure that groups underrepresented in STEM have the opportunity to achieve their highest educational goals and realize both personal and professional success,” says engineering dean Peter Nelson.

“Knowles’ generosity will significantly help strengthen the college’s efforts to provide access to the engineering field for women.”

The Knowles donation will support scholarships for first-year and continuing female engineering students.

Perla Jiménez, a junior in mechanical and industrial engineering, received an earlier Knowles scholarship. Jiménez said without the award, she wasn’t sure she would be able to enroll this semester because of financial concerns.

“The Knowles scholarship took that massive weight off my shoulders,” Jiménez said. “Because of it, I’m here, one step closer to where I want to be. Sponsors like Knowles want to see you succeed, and they want to be the ones to help you do it.”

The UIC Women in Engineering Summer Program, planned for 2015, will be a multi-week intensive program for junior and senior high school students with strong science and math skills.

Statistics show that women are underrepresented in all STEM fields, including engineering. They are three times less likely to pursue a career in engineering than their male counterparts.

Knowles Corp. regards STEM disciplines as being “at the heart of our business and an integral part of the future of communication technology,” said Jeffrey Niew, president and CEO.

“Our collaboration with the UIC College of Engineering is a natural way for us to support the development of young women and the skills needed to have a rewarding career,” said Niew, an engineering alumnus and member of the college’s advisory board. Founded in 1946, the firm has more than 10,000 employees in 36 locations around the world.


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