Markforged Distinguished Women Engineers Grant

Funded by
Markforged
Learn more about the Donor
$3,085
1 winner
Awarded
Winner
1
Finalists
4
Application Deadline
Nov 19, 2021
Winners Announced
Dec 18, 2021
Education Level
Graduate, Undergraduate
14
Contributions
Recent Bold.org scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Gender:
Woman-identifying
Gender:
Woman-identifying

From robotics to material science, some of the most exciting, world-changing innovation and economic opportunity today is happening at the cutting edge of engineering fields.

Unfortunately, while breakthroughs in technology ought to serve everyone equally, the teams and individuals driving innovation in engineering fields are not typically reflective of our population.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that women will hold just 20% of computing jobs by 2025, a gap that has gotten worse in the last 30 years.

In robotics and 3D printing, where our Markforged team is at the forefront of the digital manufacturing revolution, the lack of gender diversity is just as prevalent.

We see this as not just an opportunity problem, but also as an impact problem. Technology itself suffers from the lack of diversity, as evidenced by problems like AI programs exhibiting racial and gender biases.

Diverse teams are more innovative and show better financial results than those that aren’t, and it is in all of our best interests to ensure equality of opportunity and strong diversity in engineering fields.

As one part of this, the Markforged team has come together to create this grant for women in engineering fields at leading technical universities.

The grant will be awarded to a woman studying any engineering field at a top-tier technical undergraduate or graduate university program in the US.

Additionally, applicants to this grant will be considered for current and future internships and job opportunities at Markforged as part of an innovative, industry-leading team that is transforming manufacturing.

While applicants from any engineering field are welcome, candidates who have demonstrated excellence in cloud computing, material science, industrial design, 3D printing, manufacturing, etc. will be given preference.

Selection Criteria:
Engineering Excellence
Published July 14, 2021
$3,085
1 winner
Awarded
Winner
1
Finalists
4
Application Deadline
Nov 19, 2021
Winners Announced
Dec 18, 2021
Education Level
Graduate, Undergraduate
14
Contributions
Recent Bold.org scholarship winners
Essay Topic

If you had an unlimited budget, how would you use the funds to further your projects that are already underway, or for future STEM-related projects?

500–1000 words

Winning Application

Sandra Gomez
Colorado School of MinesDenver, CO
For me, love smells like coffee. I grew up seeing my mom, aunt, and grandmother rise before the sun to share a cup of coffee. More importantly, coffee is my heritage. My grandparents used to work in coffee plantations, and coffee was the one thing they brought with them when they traveled from El Salvador to put down roots in the fertile lands of Panama. Some years ago, I embarked on a personal project of planting coffee shrubs in my backyard, and I reached out to an agricultural engineer for advice. He warned me that my efforts were futile because, by 2050, climate change will reduce coffee production by more than 30%. I was shocked. The more I researched, the more concerned I grew about the people of the future. How can children grow up without chocolate? How will we explain to people the taste of coffee if they never get to try it? This experience kick-started my passion for the future of food. I am very passionate about food security and food sustainability. Global food security is one of the biggest problems of humankind. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2050, the demand for food will increase by 60% due to population growth. My life's mission is to apply chemical and biomedical engineering knowledge to solve this challenge. I firmly believe that fermentation in the form of precision fermentation, algae bioprocesses, and the cultivation of animal cells in bioreactors hold immense promise to tackle one of humanity's biggest challenges. Thus, I decided to deepen my chemical engineering knowledge by getting a Master's in Chemical Engineering and progressing to a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. I am currently working on getting funding for a thesis project that aims to lower the costs of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only sold as supplements; they are essential food additives for farmed fish and alternative and vegan seafood products. In the future, as global fish stocks decline, we need a sustainable source of these fatty acids to supply the world population. Fish provide a source of critical fatty acids in the human diet, especially the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). The primary sources of DHA and EPA are fish species such as herring and salmon. However, global fish stocks are declining, and farmed fish need to be supplemented with Omega-3, mainly because fish consume them from other fish and microalgae in the food chain. Thus, fatty acids produced through microbial fermentation are of particular interest, as they could provide a sustainable source of nutrients. However, DHA and EPA from microbial fermentation sources currently represent less than 2% of the market. They are more expensive than fish oils due to low cell densities and titers of fatty acids. Currently, the most used microalgae for the production of EPA and DHA are C. cohnii and Schizochytrium, which produce 30-70% of dry biomass in total lipids. In order to promote lipid accumulation in excess, Carbon and limited Nitrogen (N) are used; however, this causes a reduction in cell growth, resulting in low DHA titers. If I had unlimited resources, I would design and engineer the metabolic pathway for EPA and DHA production in C. zofingiensis to create a sustainable and cost-effective new microalgal source of these omega-3 fatty acids. Chromochloris zofingiensis is a fast-growing microalga that can achieve high cell densities under different conditions. C. zofingiensis produces oils and can exhibit a total lipid content >50% of dry biomass and a triacylglycerol (TAG) content of 36% of dry biomass under nitrogen starvation. Additionally, C. zofingiensis produces the secondary keto-carotenoid Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a widely used chemical for nutraceutical, food, feed, and pharmaceutical purposes. Notably, Astaxanthin gives salmon its characteristic color, and it also gives lobsters, shrimp, and crab their red color when cooked. The FDA approves Astaxanthin as a fish feed and food dye for farm-raised salmon and chicken egg yolks. Astaxanthin can be produced synthetically; however, naturally derived Astaxanthin has higher antioxidant activity. If I had an unlimited budget, I would genetically engineer strains of C. zofingiensis to provide a new algae strain that can produce a high-value chemical like Asthaxanthin to offset the production costs of Omega-3 in algae. I would construct a synthetic pathway using genes of desaturases and enlongases from multiple species to use C18:1Δ9 and C16:0 as precursors for EPA and DHA production in C. zofingiensis. I would also grow C. zonfingiensis in bioreactors, measure the engineered strains' cell density, and measure their EPA, DHA, and Astaxanthin production. I would further carry out metabolic flux analysis to improve carbon flux in the cells and maximize product output. In this way, I would be using my knowledge and skills as a chemical engineer to provide solutions for a current pressing problem of the food industry. If I could request even more funds, I would invest them in diversifying and making public the techniques developed by the nascent field of cellular agriculture. This interdisciplinary and emerging field applies biotechnology, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, molecular biology, synthetic biology, and tissue engineering techniques to produce animal products without animals. It is a more humane and more sustainable option to our current production methods of sourcing animal meats, fats, and proteins. In the long run, cellular agriculture holds the promise of increasing our capabilities of feeding the world while having a lower environmental impact. I dream of a world where we could recycle the food that we waste as a society, create mediums with this, and upcycle them as inputs to produce the food. I dream of a world where we work together to make sure that every person is nourished and has access to food, a world where every child knows what chocolate tastes like, and people can start their mornings with coffee. Multiple STEM fields hold the answer to the Global Food Security challenge, and I am committed to being one of the engineers solving this problem.
Jordan Hemmerly
University of Hawaii at HiloHilo, HI
I have always known I wanted to move toward the fields of engineering and math while also staying conscious of my personal interest in the marine environment with particular emphasis on coral reef ecology. Coral has unique biological structures, chemical signatures that contribute to modern medicine, and massive pertinentence to the stability of all global productivity despite evolving anthropogenic factors. This profound interest has guided me to the Big Island of Hawaii. I strongly considered whether or not it was logical to move onto an isolated volcano thousands of miles into the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the pursuit of a higher education, a better understanding of the global ocean’s reef products, and their potential benefit to human life. I am now extremely proud to share I believe I have found a platform within which I am able to express and grow all of my interests equally. The degradation of coral reefs, at this point, is historically documentable. This is a great misfortune to societal advancement in a variety of biological and chemical sciences at bare minimum. My desire is to focus on creation and implementation of products or systems designed to ease the workload of computing total reef resilience over a long-term timeframe. I‎ resolutely aspire to expand my knowledge of marine engineering, bioinformatic processes, and the use of 3D mapping/printing because I am certain that these technologies offer profoundly promising new ways to connect people with information. I regularly find myself positively mystified by the absolutely infinite array of ability that new technologies and upgraded designs offer those in pursuit of questions that can be answered scientifically. I recently completed the ‘Ike Wai Data Science Summer Scholar internship program. I am currently working with University of Hawaii at Hilo's Multi-scale Environmental Graphical Analysis (MEGA) laboratory as an undergraduate research assistant where I conduct tasks that vary across the disciplines of marine engineering, data analysis, and marine biology. I routinely apply 3D photogrammetry (ArcMap, ArcGIS, etc.) technology to create, analyze, and quantify characteristics of high resolution habitat reconstructions throughout the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. I have been trained in analytical geospatial methodological practices and demography quantification procedures in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) alongside the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC). I am funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). I regularly use statistical analysis, regression modeling, and 3D multivariate analyses in various coding languages (R, Python, HTML, etc.) to predict and present information about coral resilience and ecosystem functionality. I am absolutely enthralled to currently be working toward a deeper understanding of Bayesian statistical approaches in the hopes of expanding my personal skills and improving the immediate readability of our time-series visualizations. My annotations and visualizations have been selected to assist in machine learning exploration and have been featured as idyllic output examples. I aspire to work more directly with machine learning in the near future with the hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of how my annotations are being used to automate the process of mapping and information gathering. In the long term I hope to make a substantial contribution to international science center’s showcases by modernizing the overall process of scientific research from data collection to publication and revolutionizing the presentation of information. This experience has fully changed my life in ways I am so grateful for it becomes difficult to express without emotional involvement. I appreciate your time and sincerely hope to be considered for this scholarship so that I may continue to expand my knowledge base, connect with professionals/mentors, and work toward innovating oceanic technologies.

FAQ

When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Nov 19, 2021. Winners will be announced on Dec 18, 2021.

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