Texas Instruments announces funding for statue of female engineer on Illinois' campus
At a dedication this week for two spaces named for Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building, Steve Lyle remarked on the company’s next step in supporting engineering students at Illinois: funding for a statue depicting a female engineer, intended to inspire current and future women who aspire to attain a degree and career in engineering.
Lyle, TI’s director of engineering workforce development and university marketing, sees the company’s support as a reflection of its belief that diversity fuels innovation within science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.
“Different worldviews and approaches to solving problems are fundamental to creative thinking, and we are 100 percent behind the university’s efforts to increase gender diversity in particular,” Lyle said at the dedication ceremony in the ECE Building Lobby on Thursday, March 19. “It will make the University of Illinois stronger, as well as companies like TI that will hire the talent coming off the campus. We all benefit from increased diversity.”
It’s no secret that attracting the best minds to STEM disciplines, especially those of women, is a challenge for universities around the country, Lyle said. But Engineering at Illinois has tackled the challenge with pushes to increase both the number of incoming female students and faculty members.
“As a company, TI loves to be a part of collaborative efforts like this,” Lyle said. “We look forward to having generations of prospective and graduating students inspired by the statue for many years to come.”
Senior electrical engineering major Sakshi Srivastava, an international student from Allahabad, India, has been a champion for the statue, in hopes of encouraging more women to pursue engineering degrees and professions. She wants women to be seen as deserving of their accomplishments in these fields.
“I stumbled across an article about how public art conveys the sentiments of a community,” Srivastava said. “I realized that having a statue erected can show our commitment to younger students that we endorse their dreams.”
She believes it will help inspire prospective students.
“It will also serve as a reminder to the current female students in engineering that the community supports their goals and that they belong in engineering,” she said.
Srivastava said she’s pleased with TI’s support of the statue, and she sees it as a validation of the time she’s invested since June 2013 to make the statue a reality.
“TI’s donation is a symbol of how students, staff, faculty, and corporate partners can work together and bring about a change in the society,” she said.
The statue is expected to be completed next academic year.