SAE Foundation Recognizes Ford Motor Company’s Alison Bazil for Advancing STEM Education
The SAE Foundation is pleased to recognize Alison Bazil for her contributions to the industry and for her volunteer efforts to advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for women and girls as a role model.
“According the Society of Women Engineers, only 13 percent of the engineers in the U.S. workforce are women, and only 38 percent of bachelor’s degrees are awarded to women in the fields of engineering and computer science,” said Lori Gatmaitan, SAE Foundation Director. “We are grateful to have role models like Alison representing our Foundation through initiatives that advance STEM education and engineering career opportunities for women and girls.”
For more than three decades, Bazil has worked to ensure that young girls are exposed to the field of engineering and that they see experienced practicing engineers who are female – something they aren’t often exposed to otherwise.
Bazil serves as a Trustee for the SAE Foundation and is a trailblazer in the field of engineering, working over 20 years in chassis engineering. Currently, she is the manager of global variable suspension at Ford Motor Company, where she is responsible for the design and development of all tuned suspension components and systems for all global car and truck programs. A champion for increasing the STEM pipeline, she is the lead advisor for Ford’s corporate STEAM initiative on the strategy to reinforce the STEM pipeline.
In addition to these roles, Bazil is the lead recruiter for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) recruiting team as well as a leader of the Women in Product Development employee resource group. Active in the SWE-Detroit professional section, Bazil has also served as a national officer of the organization.
Through her hands-on volunteer work with SAE’s A World In Motion (AWIM) program, which brings STEM education to life for students in grades PK-8, Bazil is encouraging elementary school girls to pursue their interest in science and math.
“Engineering is a wonderful opportunity for young women, highlighting skills they may have in science and math,” Bazil says. “But girls, from a young age, choose not to pursue those skills—they choose not to go into STEM at all.”
Bazil adds that statistics show many girls around third grade self-select out of science and math fields—and as a result, women make up less than 20 percent of the engineering field in the United States.
“Unfortunately, there just aren’t very many role models for them to emulate—girls don’t see who or what they can be,” she says.
“That’s why the most important thing we can do is role modeling. For girls to see experienced women in the field, explaining all the things they can do and how exciting their career is – that really makes a difference,” she continues. “That’s what is really unique about AWIM. The corporate volunteer aspect puts those role models in the classroom with students. Kids see doctors and lawyers and scientists on TV; it’s rare that they see an engineer. There aren’t many opportunities to see an actual practicing engineer in the classroom helping the students experience engineering firsthand. AWIM does just that.”
Recognizing that third grade seems to be a pivotal point for young girls in choosing their career path, Bazil chose to volunteer in a third-grade classroom in the underserved Detroit school district. She and fellow Ford volunteers aided the teacher in completing a six-week challenge to create a jet-propelled car.
“SAE does a really good job with their curriculum,” she says. “It’s engaging, well-rounded and provides opportunities for kids with all different skillsets.”
For her, however, the most rewarding part of the experience was knowing she made a difference in shaping the future of her beloved field.
“To go into a classroom and see a spark in a young person’s eye about what they can see and do—that’s really fulfilling,” she says. “You truly see a growth moment.”
The growth and advancement of the industry is the very basis of the SAE Foundation’s mission.
“The SAE Foundation is proud to support women in engineering, and we are committed to providing opportunities that open doors for young girls interested in STEM activities and those who wish to pursue careers in these fields,” Gatmaitan says.
SAE’s STEM programs have served more than six million students worldwide, of which 47% are female participants, thereby shifting the balance of tomorrow’s engineering workforce. In addition, the programs offer hands-on learning opportunities and have engaged more than 30,000 STEM industry professionals as volunteers. SAE is inspiring the next generation of women engineers by encouraging and increasing student achievement and participation in STEM in order to build a STEM-fluent workforce. SAE’s STEM education programs enable students to develop the 21st century skills needed to succeed in real-world work environments and connect classroom learning with real-life application.
SAE is the only U.S.-based organization with a full continuum of STEM education programs from preschool through college, including the award-winning AWIM and Collegiate Design Series (CDS). In addition, the SAE Foundation supports more than 60 awards and recognitions, as well as a dozen undergraduate and graduate scholarships.
About SAE International
SAE International is a global association committed to advancing mobility knowledge and solutions for the benefit of humanity. By engaging nearly 200,000 engineers, technical experts and volunteers, we connect and educate mobility professionals to enable safe, clean, and accessible mobility solutions. We act on two priorities: encouraging a lifetime of learning for mobility engineering professionals and setting the standards for industry engineering. We strive for a better world through the work of our philanthropic SAE Foundation, including award-winning programs like A World In Motion® PreK-8 STEM curriculum and the Collegiate Design Series™.