Grand Challenges Scholar

Maya Hewitt

Maya Hewitt standing next to her poster.
Maya Hewitt, chemical engineering

Class year: 2023
Major: Chemical Engineering
Challenge: Engineer the Tools for Scientific Discovery

Can you provide a short summary of your project?

I focused on addressing the “Engineer the Tools for Scientific Discovery” challenge, with a special focus on making engineering spaces more equitable and inclusive. I applied this challenge to many facets of my life throughout my time here at the University of Rochester, including my involvement in Army ROTC, the Society of Women Engineers, my cluster in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, and research sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Why did you want to address this particular challenge?

My mother was my greatest inspiration in taking this project on; she grew up in Guyana, South America, and overcame many obstacles to graduate with an electrical engineering degree from Syracuse University. My ultimate goal was to work to break down some of these obstacles, particularly for women and people of color. My main tactic was encouraging others to be bold and involve themselves in organizations where these obstacles have been present historically, so that we can be proactive in working toward positive change together.

What was the most important takeaway or thing you learned through the course of the project?

Even when I thought my sphere of influence was small, I have realized that sometimes all it takes is affecting one person positively to make a profound impact, and that should always be enough to keep inspiring change.

Now that you are graduating, what are your next steps?

Following graduation, I will be working full-time as a Project Engineer at Graham Corporation, primarily working on steam ejectors for submarines. I am also commissioning as a second lieutenant this May into the Army Reserve; I am assigned to be the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear officer for the 2-228th Aviation Unit at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.