College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

WISE choice: Organization for women engineers selects Clemson University program for three national awards


Clemson University’s premier organization for supporting women in STEM added to its list of honors when two individuals and one program racked up three awards, this time from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).

All three awards are connected to Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a program that is part of an organization at Clemson called PEER & WISE.

Beth Anne Johnson, left, and Serita Acker were among those to win awards from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).

The winners and their awards are:

* Serita Acker, executive director of PEER & WISE, won the University Change Agent Award for having a positive impact within her academic institution with regard to the climate for women in STEM, with an emphasis on engineering.

* Beth Anne Johnson, associate director of WISE and president-elect of the WEPAN board, won the Women in Engineering Champion Award for her volunteer contributions to STEM education at the primary, secondary, or collegiate levels. She takes office on the WEPAN board July 1.

* WISE itself won the Women in Engineering Program Award for an outstanding women-in-engineering program that serves as a model for other institutions.

WISE is the part of PEER & WISE that focuses primarily on supporting women in STEM. PEER & WISE is headquartered in Clemson’s Freeman Hall and is part of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

PEER & WISE aims to increase diversity in engineering, computing and applied sciences by supporting students with a wide range of initiatives, including mentoring, coaching, tutoring, networking and career-development opportunities.

Only one other university besides Clemson won three awards when WEPAN announced 23 awards to a range of universities, schools and nonprofits.

The awards, announced June 3, “honor key individuals, programs, and organizations for accomplishments that underscore WEPAN’s mission to advance cultures of inclusion and diversity in engineering education and professions,” according to WEPAN’s press release.

Among those offering their congratulations were Melissa Smith and Oliver Myers, both associate deans focused on inclusive excellence in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

“These awards are important milestones as we work toward a more equitable future so that all students have an equal opportunity to obtain a high-quality STEM education,” Smith said. “PEER & WISE is playing a major role in helping students maximize their success.”

Myers added: “The WEPAN awards are the latest honors to underscore just how much of an impact PEER & WISE is having, not just at Clemson but across the country. As WEPAN noted, the team is creating models for other institutions to follow. These awards are well-earned.”

Johnson said: “Serita is well deserving of the University Change Agent Award. As Implementation Partner for General Electric’s Next Engineers Program, she made Clemson history, diligently working to diversify the engineering pipeline in Greenville and the Upstate.”

Acker said: “Beth Anne brings a bit of sparkle to everything she accomplishes! She is so deserving of the Women in Engineering Champion Award and serves as a model mentor for her students!”

The WEPAN awards were the latest for PEER & WISE. Some of its more recent honors include two from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine: a 2021 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award and a 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.

Anand Gramopadhye, the college’s dean, said all of PEER & WISE’s accolades are well deserved.

“PEER & WISE is playing a key role in diversifying the engineering, computing and applied sciences pipeline in South Carolina and beyond,” he said. “The awards, including the three from WEPAN, are a testament to the college’s commitment to inclusive excellence. I offer Serita, Beth Anne and the entire team my heartfelt congratulations on their latest honors.”

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