This past September, assistant professor Stephanie TerMaath attended the 2015 US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium in Irvine, California.
The annual 2 ½ day symposium brings together 100 of the country’s best and brightest engineers (ages 35 to 45) from academia, industry, government and a variety of engineering disciplines. The participants learn from their peers about pioneering technical and leading-edge research in different areas of engineering. The number of participants is limited to 100 to maximize opportunities for interactions and exchanges among the attendees.
The topics covered at the symposium were cybersecurity and privacy, engineering the search for Earth-like exoplanets, optical and mechanical metamaterials, and forecasting natural disasters. “The goal of this program was to bring researchers from diverse fields together to discuss these topics from completely different perspectives and I enjoyed the networking opportunities as much as the outstanding seminars,” TerMaath said.
During the symposium, TerMaath led an engaging discussion on how to improve diversity in engineering in order to reduce the national workforce shortage in STEM fields. “We had an enthusiastic session during which we shared ideas currently implemented in industry and academia and discussed what works and what doesn’t,” TerMaath said.
TerMaath implemented many of the ideas discussed during the session into the new WiSTAR3 (Women in STem Advancing Research, Readiness, and Retention) program for women graduate students at the University of Tennessee.
The students in TerMaath’s classes are also benefiting from the knowledge and ideas she gained at the symposium. In her Introduction to Aerospace Engineering class, she devoted an entire class session to showing highlights from the symposium presentations and after each topic had a class discussion about its applicability to aerospace engineering. Her Mechanics of Materials class spent a class session learning about metamaterials and how to design custom materials that behave differently from traditional materials. The topic challenged the students to think about applications beyond the traditional materials they learn in class.
The symposium helped TerMaath grow as an engineer and teacher. “It was a great honor to be a part of this once in a lifetime experience,” TerMaath said.
By Kathy Williams