Women in STEM+A unite at UNM’s international program

By Rebecca Brock

Photography By Rebecca Brock and Nicholas Kerekes

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Event emphasizes importance of women in math, science fields

Women engineers from Sandia shared their passion and real-life experiences with undergraduate women studying science, technology, engineering, math, and architecture (STEM+A) as part of a new program hosted by the University of the New Mexico. The Innovation Academy for Women of the Americas offered more than 20 students from both Mexico and UNM the opportunity to grow their research and leadership skills, and to network with women leaders in established STEM+A careers. The month-long program encourages the academic advancement of underrepresented minority women in the Americas into STEM+A careers.

Sandia engineer Sandra Begay hosted the undergraduates on a tour of the renewable energy facilities at Isleta Pueblo. At the pueblo’s government building, Sandra offered insight into the challenges, benefits, and cultural implications of fitting solar installation systems on native land.

Blanca Sofia Cervantes, an engineering student from Torreon Coahuila, Mexico, says she was encouraged by spending a day with an accomplished Native American woman engineer. “Sandra is a role model for us. I am passionate about renewable energy and this experience will help me decide my future and not limit my views. Renewable energy is a brand new major at my university and I hope to bring knowledge back to my school,” she says.

Sandia engineer Sandra Begay hosted the undergraduates on a tour of the renewable energy facilities at Isleta Pueblo.

Fernanda Salazar, a chemical engineering student from Mexico City, says, “The major benefit of this program is that it is helping us build a strong network of women engineers.”

Sandia President and Labs Director Jill Hruby gave the keynote address to the students at the program’s inaugural event on June 7 at UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning. Encouraging the women to embrace the challenges ahead, Jill said, “STEM+A allows you to reach for the skies, for something bigger than yourself in your career. You can make the world a better place.”


Innovation Academy co-founder Danielle Gilliam from UNM’s Global Education Office says, “By meeting inspirational women from Sandia such as Jill Hruby and Sandra Begay, these undergraduates have learned what it will take to go on their journey. We see it as opening doors.”