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Women in Engineering
January 2016 WIE Newsletter

Welcome back to campus! We hope that you all had a wonderful winter break and are having a great start to your 2016 Spring sememster. Read below for current WIE events and opportunities. Please feel free to stop by any time and see us in Engineering Hall 210.


The spring semester is a busy time! As high school students recieve their acceptance to the University of Illinois, we want to help them make their decision to attend Illinois by showing them the wonderful women in engineering community. We have several events like Admitted Student Luncheons and Orange and Blue days, along with post card writing. We need YOUR help to interface with students and tell them about your experience here at Illinois. Please fill out this form if you are interested in participating in any of these outreach events! 


WIE Lead is a new leadership series started last semester for our women students to learn and practice important leadership skills to be used in their current and future careers. These workshops are based of the Athena CORE10 developed at Barnard College. This semester we will be looking at collaboration, negotiation, and communication. By participating in this program you can get a WIE Leadership certificate, as well as have a program counted toward the campus leadership certificate. Keep your eye out for the next WIE Lead Newsletter to sign up!


WIE have made it easy to stay connected and up to date on WIE Activities. View our Google calendar here and add it to yours!


Samantha Knoll is a graduate of the University of Illinois holding degrees in Engineering Mechanics (B.S.) and Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (M.S.). She is currently pursuing her PhD degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at UIUC, with a research emphasis in cellular biomechanics and nanotechnology.  In 2015, Samantha co-founded a company (AVriculture) focused on developing unique unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that improved agricultural yields.  The company’s mission is to design unique image processing techniques coupled with custom designed aerial vehicles to provide a new perspective in increasing efficiency in farm operations. Samantha has helped represent the company when competing in UIUC’s Cozad New Venture Competition in the years 2014 and 2015, placing as a finalist and semi-finalist, respectively.   

As a result of her experience as a co-founder of AVriculture and alumni of the Hoeft Technology and Management program at UIUC, Samantha recently had the unique opportunity to serve as a mentor for the 2016 Technology and Management International Business Plan Competition in Brazil. The topic of the competition was business applications of UAV technology, and involved 8 teams comprised of students from University of São Paulo (Brazil), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong), University of Bayreuth (Germany), and the University of Illinois. Samantha’s entrepreneurial spirit has also permeated her interest in advocating for women in engineering, as she co-founded the student organization, GradSWE at Illinois, in 2012. GradSWE at Illinois serves as a support community for women in STEM graduate programs.

Would you like to be featured in one of our WIE Spring Newsletter's? Share details of your awards, accomplishments, and more with WIE for a chance to tell your story and inspire fellow women in engineering students.  Contact us at


Lilian Ficht graduated from the University of Illinois in 1987 with a BS in Electrical Engineering (bioengineering concentration) and from the University of Michigan in 1988 with a MS in Electrical Engineering (Systems). After graduation, she worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories/Lucent as a development engineer, system architect, and supervisor. Currently she works in the field of intellectual property law as a Patent Agent at Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, LLP, a boutique intellectual property law firm in Chicago. In this position, she secures domestic and foreign intellectual property rights; develops, assesses, and manages patent portfolios; investigates patentability and freedom-to-operate issues; and counsels clients. Lilian particularly enjoys continually learning about a variety of new technologies and inventions, and helping clients utilize intellectual property to achieve their business goals. She is also interested in exposing engineering students to patent law as a potential career path.

In her spare time, Lilian enjoys reading, music, and traveling, as well as returning to campus to spend time with her daughter (Rebecca Ficht, Bioengineering, class of 2017) and attend various events, such as EOH 2016!


Are you part of a student organization that has done some awesome work? Let us know and we can highligh your group in the next newsletter! Send the information to Cassie Arenz at


Did you know that our campus has an extensive Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) which provides students and faculty with the skills, resources and experiences necessary to become successful innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who tackle grand challenges and change the world? TEC does this through courses, workshops, competitions, and other events. If you are interested in entrepreneurship, be sure to check out these upcoming events and their website for even more opportunities.

Cozad Intent to Compete Deadline | February 7

Do you want to start a company? Have an idea for a startup? Cozad New Venture Competition can help with funding, mentoring and taking your idea to the next level. The cross-campus new venture competition will give away more than $160K in funding and in-kind prizes this year! Whether your idea is in early stages or you have a working prototype—TEC wants to see you pitch! Submit your Intent to Compete by Sunday, February 7 at 11:59 p.m. Elevator pitches will take place February 23 and 25. In the meantime, read Rithmio’s Cozad success story!

iVenture Round Two Applications Due | February 10

The iVenture Accelerator enables student-led startups to create economic and social value by supporting student entrepreneurs with knowledge, funding and access to world-class resources and alumni. Student startups with 2-4 team members are encouraged to apply for Round 2 of applications by Wednesday,  February 10th. Startups not selected in Round 2 may reapply in the last application round in April 2016.

Illinois Innovation Prize Nominations Due | February 14

The Illinois Innovation Prize is awarded on an annual basis to the most innovative student on campus. TEC will award and recognize the winner with $20,000 on Thursday, April 28th at the Entrepreneurship Forum at the Illini Union. Nominees, who must be nominated by a professor, mentor or advisor, must be a creative and passionate innovator, working with world changing technology, entrepreneurially minded and a role model for others. Ask your professor to nominate a worthy candidate today!


Girls Adventures in Math, Engineering, and Science (GAMES) Camp is a camp for high school girls to explore different types of engineering. Each camp is a week long and the description for each one can be found here. If you are interested in being a counselor or lab assistant for one or more of these camps, please fill out this form. Let's inspire more girls to be engineers!


The nano@illinois Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) 2016 program will run from May 23, 2015 – July 29, 2016. This 10-week summer research program is organized and managed by the University of Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) and is based at the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with PI Catherine J. Murphy and co-PI Umberto Ravaioli; and Program Manager Irfan Ahmad, and Program Coordinator Carrie Kouadio. The deadline for full consideration is March 1, 2016; applications received after this date may be considered if space permits. Please see the nano@illinois REU website for more information:


Personalized Meeting

Are you in need of some advice about a particular course, your work load, or other things concerning your experience in engineering? Schedule an appointment with WIE advisors, Dean Larson or Angie Wolters by emailing with your availability. WIE can discuss strategies and resources available to enhance your efforts.  


The WIE staff is continually encouraging women in engineering, so keep in touch! Check out our website, post to our Facebook page, e-mail us at, join our Women in Engineering LinkedIn group, or follow us on Instagram, to learn all about WIE news, upcoming events, and scholarship opportunities.


Pictured from left to right:

Angie Wolters,

Dr. Susan Larson,

Robin McDaniel



WIE Innovate. WIE Collaborate. WIE Succeed. Check out how WIE Can Make a Difference!