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CSL researcher Shobha Vasudevan was presented the YWCA Leadership Award in Science on March 11. She was one of six female leaders who were honored by the YWCA chapter of Champaign- Urbana in their first annual leadership award ceremony.
YWCA director Lisha Banks said that Vasudevan’s accomplishments display her strong leadership skills in the male-dominated environment of computer engineering. Since Vasudevan joined Illinois' electrical and computer engineering faculty, she has invented innovative and useful algorithms for computer-aided verification, which have been developed into efficient software tools. She received the NSF CAREER Award for GoldMine, an assertion generation software. She supervises the research of several graduate students and collaborates with leading semiconductor industries as a part of her research activities.
However, the YWCA award was not given to Vasudevan solely for her research accomplishments. The YWCA also recognized Vasudevan’s efforts in mentoring young women in engineering, something that is very important to her.
“I noticed that in my senior level logic synthesis class, there were very bright female students who were not even considering graduate school as an option due to their lack of awareness of the application process,” Vasudevan said. “I made it my personal goal to encourage and guide them to apply to graduate school.”
Vasudevan said she is always looking for exceptional female engineers in her classes. She informs female engineering students about the steps to graduate school application and mentors them through the application process. She has provided some of these students with research opportunities in her own lab. “Two female students from my class in fall have been productive with research and have secured admission in graduate school. Once they were given the opportunity, the sky was the limit for them,” Vasudevan said.
Vasudevan noted that female engineering students seemed to shy away from higher education options. “Since women in computing are a perceivable minority, they might occasionally feel discouraged,” she said. “Just making them realize that the highest achievements are not out of reach is important.”
She also said, "Advancement of female engineers is not something that is limited to institutional policy, but should be practiced at an individual level."
To help encourage more women engineers to network with each other, Vasudevan developing a Facebook application to enable students to keep in touch with other female engineers. When it is developed, Vasudevan hopes women will be able to use it to find mentors among their colleagues.
“I think a good mentor is one who lets you dream,” Vasudevan said.