Jessica Ford

University of Pennsylvania

Jessica Ford, University of Pennsylvania Class of 2023, is deeply committed to broadening participation in STEM by increasing the representation of people from historically excluded groups. Since high school, Jessica has been dedicated to public service and sharing her love for engineering with younger students. She continued these efforts at Penn as a member of Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity and through the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. With her extensive experience mentoring students in STEM, Jessica decided to focus her problem-solving learning (PSL) research project with the Netter Center on expanding opportunities for underrepresented students – particularly women and Black students from low-income backgrounds – to pursue engineering. She has since translated her PSL project from paper to the real world by partnering with the National Society of Black Engineers at Penn and teacher partners at Paul Robeson High School to host a Robeson Youth Engineering Club, which encourages interest in engineering and helps improve local students’ numeracy and literacy in scientific topics. Jessica has successfully combined her academics and service to have a positive impact on campus and in the community, and she continues to work towards integrating community engagement into the engineering undergraduate experience.

Amy Gutmann
University of Pennsylvania

Personal Statement

Underrepresentation in engineering affects everyone, as the innovations and technologies developed in the field rely on diversity of thought and experience to successfully serve all communities. However, students in many high schools lack opportunities to explore engineering or to develop the necessary skills in STEM to pursue engineering. I initially became involved in engineering mentorship in high school while pursuing my Girl Scout Gold Award. After joining the Netter Center last summer, I continued my work to create equitable access to engineering for students from all backgrounds in West Philadelphia. To further diversity in engineering I created and implemented a mentorship program for local high school students interested in engineering. I have also shared my experiences with Penn Engineering faculty and advised them on how to increase community engagement among engineering students at Penn. I believe that it is vital for more STEM university students to get involved in community engagement, as their unique skill sets are crucial to creating programming that breaks access barriers for high school students that may have never considered a STEM career.

Jessica Ford
Systems Engineering: Class of May 2023
written 2022

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