Professor Earns Tech Titans Award for Years of Mentoring Women in STEM Fields
Dr. Magaly Spector was honored for her work creating the Young Women in Science and Engineering (YWISE) Investigators program.
UT Dallas professor Dr. Magaly Spector received a 2017 Tech Titans Award for her work mentoring women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at the Tech Titans Awards Gala, an event recognizing outstanding technology companies and individuals in North Texas.
Spector, assistant to the provost for strategic initiatives and professor in practice at UT Dallas, received the Tech Titans of the Future Award-University Level for her work creating the Young Women in Science and Engineering (YWISE) Investigators program through the Office of the Provost and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas. The honor includes $25,000 in funding for YWISE Investigators, established in 2012 to encourage young women from underprivileged backgrounds to explore STEM careers.
“This award is a great recognition of the value and impact of the program and an amazing opportunity to make this program visible to the corporate world in Dallas, which provides the industry mentors and the sponsorships for the program,” Spector said. “It also has a tremendous impact on our ability to reach out to new potential sponsors and to the teachers who may become mentors and engage their students in the program. It’s a big milestone for us.”
YWISE Investigators offers STEM career exploration and mentoring opportunities to Dallas-area high school and community college students. Program participants spend the academic year conducting hands-on research, working directly with UT Dallas students and professors, as well as corporate professionals and high school science teachers.
Spector said the program helps prepare participants as they negotiate the transition to college and plan careers.
“The students we’re working with, their whole lives change when they come to college,” Spector said. “Most of them come from disadvantaged socioeconomic groups and are the first in their family to attend college. The impact of this program goes well beyond one year, beyond the project they take on.”
Spector plans to expand the YWISE Investigators’ program this year, increasing the number of student teams to 20, including four teams from Dallas County Community College District institutions — Richland, Eastfield, Mountain View and El Centro — as well as to other universities in the Dallas area and beyond.
In a new feature of the program, faculty mentors will incorporate their current research into the student team projects.
“That idea is very powerful for attracting a lot of the young female participants who may become interested in engineering and sciences to UT Dallas,” Spector said. “These program graduates are coming to UT Dallas for college — we have 18 of them, majoring in engineering, computer science and other sciences — and that cohort is doing really well here.”
Tech Titans, previously known as the Metroplex Technology Business Council, represents 300 member companies employing more than 250,000 employees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond.
Other award finalists affiliated with UT Dallas included Bryan Chambers, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad program within the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, who was also up for the Tech Titans of the Future award; and Dr. Robert Gregg, assistant professor of bioengineering and mechanical engineering in the Jonsson School, who was nominated for the Technology Inventor Award.
Dr. Magaly Spector (right) receives the Tech Titans of the Future Award-University Level from George Reed, senior vice president of solutions and marketing for Huawei Technologies, the sponsor of the award.
Alumnus Receives Award for Computer Science Work
UT Dallas alumnus Henry Vo BS’04, a computer science teacher at Richardson High School, was the recipient of the Tech Titans of the Future Award-High School Level.
Vo was chosen for conveying his passion for computer science to his students, and helping them apply computer science learning in everyday life.
“I don't expect all my students to pursue computer science in the future — they all have their interests of their own,” Vo said. “But I want them to know computer science is everywhere. I want them to gain experience by creating an app, designing a game or completing a project rather than score well on a test.”
Vo said he didn’t plan to go into teaching after earning his degree, but after seeing older friends weather the dot-com collapse in the 2000s, he explored the option. Now he says being an educator helps him serve a higher purpose.
“The way I see it, if I go into industry, I'm one man who might make one impact in a company,” Vo said. “As a teacher, I can inspire my students to pursue a career in computer science and the technology field, which in turn, makes more people like me who will impact the world.”Henry Vo BS’04 celebrated receiving the award with his mother, Hang Vo.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].