UTD to Pilot Living Learning Community for Women in STEAM

The program will accommodate 28 students entering their sophomore through senior years in computer science, engineering, arts and technology, and emerging media and communication.

Living Learning
living learning

Mary Jane Pertain [Photo Courtesy UT Dallas]

The University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson will pilot a new Living Learning Community (LLC) in the fall to support women in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

According to a UTD release, the new Women in STEAM LLC will accommodate 28 students entering their sophomore through senior years in computer science, engineering, arts and technology, and emerging media and communication.

The students will live near each other in a cluster of new apartments on the southwest side of campus, the school said.

Faculty adviser Dr. Janell Straach will teach a weekly Topics in STEAM course for the students, and a peer adviser will be an overall resource and help develop a sense of community.

“I just accepted it as that’s the way it is. We all knew each other. You found each other and clung together.”
Dr. Janell Straach

According to the release, there were only a few female students in Straach’s computer science courses at UT Dallas when she took them a few decades ago.

“I just accepted it as that’s the way it is. We all knew each other. You found each other and clung together,” she said.

“There was no mechanism for them to connect,” as the department grew and women were still underrepresented in classes Straach said. She now is a senior lecturer in computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Organizers hope the new LLC will increase the retention of female students in STEAM fields through support from peers, faculty interactions, and programming, the release said.

“One of the things that helps with the retention for women in STEAM fields is having a sense of support.”
Mary Jane Partain

“One of the things that helps with the retention for women in STEAM fields is having a sense of support,” Living Learning Communities Director Mary Jane Partain said. “If they don’t feel they belong, they’re more likely to opt out.”

To be in the program, students must meet these requirements, including:

• Be entering their sophomore through senior year.
• Major in engineering, computer science, arts and technology, or emerging media and communication.
• Be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours.
• Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75.

Pertain said that surveys show that students involved in living learning programs experience smoother social and academic transitions to college, and express higher self-confidence in their abilities to succeed in college.

Also, they have a greater sense of belonging on campus and more professional self-confidence. she said.

Applications for the new Living Learning Community will be taken through March 24. 


Delivering what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth innovation, every day. Get the Dallas Innovates e-newsletter.

Related Posts

Comments are closed.