7 Scholarships Exclusively for Women Studying Engineering

They are being offered by Google, IEEE, and other organizations

2 min read
Three girls around a table with electronics on it.

Employment in science, technology, engineering, and math fields is still disproportionately dominated by men, especially in engineering and math. Last year, according to a poll conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 27 percent of STEM jobs were held by women. The percentage is even smaller for managerial and senior-level positions. Some optimism is justified, however, as the numbers were even lower five years ago.

Change can begin with knowledge, and efforts are being made at all levels of schooling to encourage girls and young women to pursue exciting, often lucrative STEM fields.

But many people cannot afford to pursue a STEM degree. Here is a look at some engineering scholarships being offered exclusively for girls and women.

IEEE Women in Engineering scholarships. WIE offers three grants. The Frances B. Hugle Scholarship is named for a pioneering engineer who started several Silicon Valley companies. It awards US $2,500 to an IEEE student member who has completed two years of undergraduate study at an ABET-accredited school in the United States.

The Edith Hannigan McHale Scholarship may be awarded annually to a female student at John Adams High School in Ozone Park, N.Y. A chosen student receives $1,000.

The 2U Scholarship program is available only to students at George Washington University, American University, Syracuse University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of California, Berkeley. Awardees can receive up to $10,000 to use toward tuition.

Amelia Earhart Fellowship. One industry that was ahead of its time in female inclusion was aviation. Earhart was one of many female pioneers in the industry.

For this scholarship, sponsored by Zonta International, 35 women pursuing a doctorate in aerospace engineering each receive $10,000 to put toward tuition. Since the fellowship was established in 1938, it has helped more than 1,600 women further their education.

Society of Women Engineers scholarship program. SWE scholarships are available to women at both the undergraduate and graduate levels whose focus is engineering and computer science. The program awarded more than 260 scholarships last year, and in 2019, it gave scholarships totaling almost $1 million.

Women Techmakers scholarship program.Google is responsible for quite a few scholarships empowering women; this program is for students studying computer science in the United States and Canada.

There is no limit on recipients for the scholarship—all women who can demonstrate that they have shown leadership, encouraged diversity, and excelled academically are encouraged to apply. Recipients in the United States are eligible for $10,000 scholarships, while Canadian recipients receive CA $5,000.

Science Ambassador Scholarship.This one is funded by the creators of the Cards Against Humanity game. One young woman receives a full-tuition reward. Applicants must submit a three-minute video explaining why their intended field of study is the best and upload it to YouTube.


This list only scratches the surface of scholarships that are available to women who are interested in a STEM career. The more young women associate with other women who are already succeeding in engineering, the more funding options they are likely to discover.

The Conversation (1)
Karen Galuchie10 Sep, 2021

The ability to remove barriers - such as financial capacity - to enable young women and girls to pursue a degree in engineering is so important. That is why the IEEE Foundation is so grateful to the donors that provided the resources so IEEE Women in Engineering can annual award both the Hugle and Hannigan Scholarships!

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The Inner Beauty of Basic Electronics

Open Circuits showcases the surprising complexity of passive components

5 min read
A photo of a high-stability film resistor with the letters "MIS" in yellow.
All photos by Eric Schlaepfer & Windell H. Oskay

Eric Schlaepfer was trying to fix a broken piece of test equipment when he came across the cause of the problem—a troubled tantalum capacitor. The component had somehow shorted out, and he wanted to know why. So he polished it down for a look inside. He never found the source of the short, but he and his collaborator, Windell H. Oskay, discovered something even better: a breathtaking hidden world inside electronics. What followed were hours and hours of polishing, cleaning, and photography that resulted in Open Circuits: The Inner Beauty of Electronic Components (No Starch Press, 2022), an excerpt of which follows. As the authors write, everything about these components is deliberately designed to meet specific technical needs, but that design leads to “accidental beauty: the emergent aesthetics of things you were never expected to see.”

From a book that spans the wide world of electronics, what we at IEEE Spectrum found surprisingly compelling were the insides of things we don’t spend much time thinking about, passive components. Transistors, LEDs, and other semiconductors may be where the action is, but the simple physics of resistors, capacitors, and inductors have their own sort of splendor.

High-Stability Film Resistor

A photo of a high-stability film resistor with the letters "MIS" in yellow.

All photos by Eric Schlaepfer & Windell H. Oskay

This high-stability film resistor, about 4 millimeters in diameter, is made in much the same way as its inexpensive carbon-film cousin, but with exacting precision. A ceramic rod is coated with a fine layer of resistive film (thin metal, metal oxide, or carbon) and then a perfectly uniform helical groove is machined into the film.

Instead of coating the resistor with an epoxy, it’s hermetically sealed in a lustrous little glass envelope. This makes the resistor more robust, ideal for specialized cases such as precision reference instrumentation, where long-term stability of the resistor is critical. The glass envelope provides better isolation against moisture and other environmental changes than standard coatings like epoxy.

15-Turn Trimmer Potentiometer

A photo of a blue chip
A photo of a blue chip on a circuit board.

It takes 15 rotations of an adjustment screw to move a 15-turn trimmer potentiometer from one end of its resistive range to the other. Circuits that need to be adjusted with fine resolution control use this type of trimmer pot instead of the single-turn variety.

The resistive element in this trimmer is a strip of cermet—a composite of ceramic and metal—silk-screened on a white ceramic substrate. Screen-printed metal links each end of the strip to the connecting wires. It’s a flattened, linear version of the horseshoe-shaped resistive element in single-turn trimmers.

Turning the adjustment screw moves a plastic slider along a track. The wiper is a spring finger, a spring-loaded metal contact, attached to the slider. It makes contact between a metal strip and the selected point on the strip of resistive film.

Ceramic Disc Capacitor

A cutaway of a Ceramic Disc Capacitor
A photo of a Ceramic Disc Capacitor

Capacitors are fundamental electronic components that store energy in the form of static electricity. They’re used in countless ways, including for bulk energy storage, to smooth out electronic signals, and as computer memory cells. The simplest capacitor consists of two parallel metal plates with a gap between them, but capacitors can take many forms so long as there are two conductive surfaces, called electrodes, separated by an insulator.

A ceramic disc capacitor is a low-cost capacitor that is frequently found in appliances and toys. Its insulator is a ceramic disc, and its two parallel plates are extremely thin metal coatings that are evaporated or sputtered onto the disc’s outer surfaces. Connecting wires are attached using solder, and the whole assembly is dipped into a porous coating material that dries hard and protects the capacitor from damage.

Film Capacitor

An image of a cut away of a capacitor
A photo of a green capacitor.

Film capacitors are frequently found in high-quality audio equipment, such as headphone amplifiers, record players, graphic equalizers, and radio tuners. Their key feature is that the dielectric material is a plastic film, such as polyester or polypropylene.

The metal electrodes of this film capacitor are vacuum-deposited on the surfaces of long strips of plastic film. After the leads are attached, the films are rolled up and dipped into an epoxy that binds the assembly together. Then the completed assembly is dipped in a tough outer coating and marked with its value.

Other types of film capacitors are made by stacking flat layers of metallized plastic film, rather than rolling up layers of film.

Dipped Tantalum Capacitor

A photo of a cutaway of a Dipped Tantalum Capacitor

At the core of this capacitor is a porous pellet of tantalum metal. The pellet is made from tantalum powder and sintered, or compressed at a high temperature, into a dense, spongelike solid.

Just like a kitchen sponge, the resulting pellet has a high surface area per unit volume. The pellet is then anodized, creating an insulating oxide layer with an equally high surface area. This process packs a lot of capacitance into a compact device, using spongelike geometry rather than the stacked or rolled layers that most other capacitors use.

The device’s positive terminal, or anode, is connected directly to the tantalum metal. The negative terminal, or cathode, is formed by a thin layer of conductive manganese dioxide coating the pellet.

Axial Inductor

An image of a cutaway of a Axial Inductor
A photo of a collection of cut wires

Inductors are fundamental electronic components that store energy in the form of a magnetic field. They’re used, for example, in some types of power supplies to convert between voltages by alternately storing and releasing energy. This energy-efficient design helps maximize the battery life of cellphones and other portable electronics.

Inductors typically consist of a coil of insulated wire wrapped around a core of magnetic material like iron or ferrite, a ceramic filled with iron oxide. Current flowing around the core produces a magnetic field that acts as a sort of flywheel for current, smoothing out changes in the current as it flows through the inductor.

This axial inductor has a number of turns of varnished copper wire wrapped around a ferrite form and soldered to copper leads on its two ends. It has several layers of protection: a clear varnish over the windings, a light-green coating around the solder joints, and a striking green outer coating to protect the whole component and provide a surface for the colorful stripes that indicate its inductance value.

Power Supply Transformer

A photo of a collection of cut wires
A photo of a yellow element on a circuit board.

This transformer has multiple sets of windings and is used in a power supply to create multiple output AC voltages from a single AC input such as a wall outlet.

The small wires nearer the center are “high impedance” turns of magnet wire. These windings carry a higher voltage but a lower current. They’re protected by several layers of tape, a copper-foil electrostatic shield, and more tape.

The outer “low impedance” windings are made with thicker insulated wire and fewer turns. They handle a lower voltage but a higher current.

All of the windings are wrapped around a black plastic bobbin. Two pieces of ferrite ceramic are bonded together to form the magnetic core at the heart of the transformer.

This article appears in the February 2023 print issue.