October 11, 2001
TECHNOLOGY-FOCUSED 'INVENT CENTER'
Alliance With Leading Women's Tech
Organization Is Designed to Give
Editor's note: Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend the opening event, which will take place at 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20. Tilly Hall is located off Henshaw Avenue; limited parking is available.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-Joined by their mutual interest in advancing women and women's career opportunities, Smith College and WITI (Women in Technology International) have established the WITI Invent Center at Smith/Five Colleges, a resource designed to enable students, faculty, alumni and community members to realize their greatest potential through technology.
"Together," she continued,
"WITI and Smith can bring considerable resources to bear
on the obstacles, such as isolation and lack of mentoring, that
so often derail women's interest or advancement in technology
The Invent Center, located in newly
renovated facilities in Tilly Hall, is the first of what WITI
hopes will be a network of college and university-based centers
designed to advance women's participation in the technological
Leighton noted that, in the last several
years, WITI's constituency has expanded from women working in
technology firms to women who consider technology central to
their businesses, careers or professions. WITI programs and services
are also open to men.
Nancy Hellman, formerly the assistant
dean for engineering at the University of Massachusetts and a
longtime advocate for women and girls in technology, will serve
as the center's consulting director. Under her direction, and
in concert with an advisory board, the center will offer internships
and mentoring programs; leadership assessment, training and coaching;
real-world work experiences for undergraduates; and resources
and connections for faculty, alumni and entrepreneurs.
"In this economic environment,
there isn't a single major, field of scholarship or business
sector that can afford to sidestep the opportunities presented
by technology," Hellman observed. "We intend the WITI
Invent Center to be a far-reaching resource, one that will add
value to the education we offer not just while a student is here
in the Valley but when she or he is in the job market, launching
a business or running a company."
Hellman noted that, as the first women's
college to establish an engineering program, Smith has already
taken a leadership position in the movement to increase the number
of young women considering and choosing careers in engineering
and technology. Smith's Picker Engineering Program, established
in 1999, now enrolls some 80 students and has received support
from a number of leading corporations, including Ford Motor Company
and Hewlett Packard.
Although the Center will be physically
located at Smith, Hellman pointed out that much of its programming
will be online-and thereby accessible to its constituents wherever
they are. Undergraduates, for example, will be able to gain high-tech
experience by working virtually from their campus computers on
real-world research projects for WITI-affiliated corporations.
An upcoming "WITI Virtual Women's Conference," to be
held the week of Dec. 3, will offer a series of online keynote
addresses, "webinars," chat rooms and a career fair,
all organized to promote successful work strategies for women
and men in the high-tech economy.
The center will open officially with
ribbon-cutting ceremonies at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, during
Smith's Family Weekend. Acting President John Connolly will be
joined by Leighton and Hellman and-via video-by Ruth Simmons,
Smith's former president, under whose leadership the partnership
with WITI was formed.
The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.
WITI contact: Jeanne Feder, (818) 342-9746; Jeanne@corp.witi.com