Pendse Awarded Funds to Encourage Involvement of Females in Forestry
Sheila Pendse, a project development associate in the Dean’s Office of the University of Maine College of Engineering, is leading a project that aims to engage female middle school students from rural Maine communities in forest bioproducts research programs and STEM careers.
The Engineering Information Foundation recently awarded Pendse $12,540 to create a Sustainable Energy Leaders of the Future (SELF) group to address the need for a diverse workforce in the state’s forest industry.
Girls Engineer Maine (GEM), a statewide educational outreach program designed to increase the number of women studying engineering, aims to start the education initiative by promoting awareness about the responsible use of a forest ecosystem among middle school girls.
The project’s objective is to introduce about 80 girls to forest bioproducts research for potential renewable energy sources and value-added materials that will provide STEM career opportunities within Maine’s forest industry, according to the researchers.
SELF will pair each participant with a female mentor who is enrolled in an undergraduate STEM degree program at UMaine. When the participants start high school, they will have the opportunity to create research projects in sustainable forest management and forest bioproducts, the researchers say.