When Tara Rahmani was a high school student in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she found herself as one of only two girls in some of her classes. “It was sad to see that more girls weren’t interested in STEM,” she said.
At MSOE, through the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Rahmani is working to help change that. She started the first SWENext section in Wisconsin and has returned to her old high school to encourage students to explore the engineering field.
“A lot of students shy away from engineering because they think it’s boring, or it’s only math and science, or that it’s too hard, and they can’t do it,” Rahmani said. “I get to talk to them and tell them, ‘No, you can do it. It is worth it.’”
As outreach chair for SWE, Rahmani hosted Literacy Night for kindergarten through eighth-grade students to learn about engineering. Another event, Engineering: A Hands-On Future, offered high school students three sessions with an MSOE professor. She also created Siblings in STEM Days so students’ parents and family members could experience different fields of engineering through hands-on activities.
“It’s great being able to make even the smallest difference in kids,” Rahmani said. “When they’re doing an activity and they get it, seeing the light click and seeing the smiles, it’s great.”
Now, as president of SWE, Rahmani wants to create a mentoring program for members that partners upperclassmen with underclassmen or brings mentors in from Johnson Controls.
Rahmani is also treasurer for the Lambda Zeta Nu Sorority. Last year, she served as educational chair, holding study groups and creating plans to prevent academic failure.
“I like helping people,” said Rahmani and added that a lot of her college experiences have pushed her toward using her degree to give back to the community. “I want to be an industrial engineer at a hospital to decrease the number of medical mistakes and improve processes in hospitals.”
Rahmani chose to attend MSOE because she thought she would learn better in smaller classes. She also wanted to challenge herself and liked the hands-on approach of the teaching. Because of the university’s smaller size, Rahmani said it was easier to find her niche and pursue her interests.
She is excited for her latest venture, joining the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program. “Being a Fellow is about being innovative and creative and design seeking. It’s what engineers should do and should be.” As a Fellow, Rahmani hopes to give a voice to students and push for ways to better campus life. “I want to help MSOE be more inclusive and provide unity between majors, between organizations and between people in general.”
Because of her work inspiring younger students, creating a positive impact in the community and promoting STEM, Rahmani was honored by MASA, Milwaukee Area Science Advocates in 2018. She was among 10 local STEM women being celebrated for their contributions. She also was named one of Wisconsin Inno's 25 Under 25.
“This pushes me even more to be an advocate for the STEM field,” said Rahmani.