Women in STEM: Lisa Osgood

May 22, 2016

Lisa Osgood headshot

Lisa Osgood

Lisa Osgood, BELM ’16, knew from the moment she arrived at Wentworth that she wanted to make an impact. Reflecting on her undergraduate career, she fully understands how much her involvement on campus not only impacted her own future, but that she also took part in a growing movement of women participating in STEM across the nation.

“When I scanned the room at orientation, I saw mostly men,” Osgood recounts. “But I also went to a vocational high school and that was the trend there.”

As a graduating senior this year, however, Osgood took note of the 22 percent of female students entering the school that year — one of Wentworth’s highest on record — and that women represented 19 percent of the overall undergraduate population at Wentworth for 2014-2015. Nationwide, women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields post-graduation measure roughly 24 percent. Wentworth and people like Osgood are among those leading the charge to balance those fields.

In her first year at Wentworth, Osgood found the Society of Engineers (SWE), a group that empowers women to succeed and advance in the field of engineering, and is seen as one of the most active on campus. Osgood served as chapter president and was a part of the group when it hosted SWE members from across New England and New York.

“The members of that club are committed to doing great things,” she says. “It’s nice to see how much the female population wants to get involved.”

Osgood is quick to point out, though, that membership in SWE is not limited to women. SWE, like the Women’s Institute for Learning Development Club (WILD), welcomes all students who sympathize with the idea of women advancing. “It’s about supporting each other,” she says.

Osgood also credits with Wentworth’s EPIC model (externally-collaborative, project-based, interdisciplinary culture for learning) with helping to bring students together and creating camaraderie. “Things can get cliquey in high school or college,” Osgood says, “and EPIC put us all on the same team. We were working together on projects just like we would in our careers.”

Teamwork between men and women of varying disciplines was on full display during one of Osgood’s junior design class projects. She and her classmates were charged with designing an auditory and visual development device to better communicate with infants. Headphones were planned to play tones at varying disciples, and an LED strip tracked eye movement. Osgood continued the project after her initial class, eventually presenting it at the 2014 Polytechnic Summit and again for her senior design class.

“I consider myself a team player and projects like the infant device were very collaborative,” she says. “I worked on a lot of team projects over the years. And the teachers here were always reaching out, asking about the work, making sure we had the help we needed.”

Beyond SWE and class projects, Osgood was a member of the women’s volleyball team and a residential assistant, and she has volunteered for the Girl Scouts of America. She worked on HVAC fire protection as a co-op at MIT Lincoln Labs and will begin her post-Wentworth career in June as a design project engineer at McKinstry in Seattle. “I’ll be doing energy monitoring and making sure buildings are meeting LEED certifications,” she says.

The 2016 Women @ Wentworth event was also a defining moment for Osgood’s Wentworth career. Woman of the Year honoree Boston City Council President Michelle Wu shared her story of growing up as a woman and breaking through certain barriers to achieve her goals.

“Hearing her speak was a great opportunity for a lot of us [at the event], because it reassured us that we’re doing the right things. Hearing positive words from people like [Wu] presses you to keep going when you hear negativity,” Osgood says.

While Osgood acknowledges that there is still a lot of work to do in the fight for women’s rights—particularly in the workplace—she is optimistic for the future and believes that her college education has helped properly prepare her for her career.

“I think that Wentworth does a great job of creating an environment that helps people achieve while also addressing issues as they come up,” Osgood says. “Things could always be better, but I’ve seen them already get a lot better for women. Wentworth is moving in a good direction and the resources on campus are amazing.”

More about SWE can be found in this video.

—Greg Abazorius

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