Promoting diversity in engineering

Jones is passionate about advocating for diversity and inclusion — something she considers a cornerstone of her identity as an engineer and a key part of ASU’s mission.

“We’re making substantial changes in conversations about diversity and inclusion in engineering,” Jones said, adding that the ASU section of SWE not only focuses on female engineers, but non-female-identifying allies and resources for everyone to be part of the conversation.

Jones is a natural at leading this dialogue, with a long-standing passion for guiding youth to follow their STEM dreams.

“I love being able to help people explore what they want to be when they grow up, and that traditional gender roles are shifting and you're no longer constrained by them,” she said.

She also has held numerous positions outside of SWE that allow her to be a mentor and inspire other women to become engineers. These include roles as a mentor in the Engineering Futures program, as a Fulton Ambassador showing prospective students what it’s like to be a Sun Devil engineer and tutoring her peers to help them succeed in difficult engineering courses.

She has even turned this passion into her honors thesis as a student in Barrett, The Honors College. This project, which is the culmination of her undergraduate education, focuses on self-efficacy and a sense of belonging in engineering.

Jones says role models are one important aspect of developing her identity and confidence as an engineer.

“For me, role models have helped me get through those times when I had self doubt. Without people like Alicia Baumann, I would have dropped engineering. My mentors were always a voice of encouragement and said I was worth giving myself the chance to do what I wanted to do,” Jones said.

“Role models can help you see that people have gone through it, and by getting through it yourself, you’re setting an example for future generations.”

Elizabeth Jones (center) and members of the ASU SWE section leadership team the WE19 Society of Women Engineers conference.

Elizabeth Jones (center) poses with ASU SWE section leadership team members at the WE19 annual Society of Women Engineers conference. Her outstanding support of SWE and the engineering community at ASU are being recognized at WE20 in November. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Jones 

Engineering a rewarding future

As an electrical engineering major focusing on communications and signal processing, Jones works in the Bliss Laboratory of Information, Signals and Systems, conducting research on small-scale radars and solutions for medical and defense applications.

She has been an electrical engineering major since day one, but it took a couple years to figure out which industry she wanted to go into after graduating.

A chance encounter with aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman put her on the path to an aerospace industry career and gave her confidence in her ability to be a successful engineering professional.

At SWE’s 2019 annual conference, WE19, a representative from Northrop Grumman interviewed her for an internship position. It turned out to be one of her proudest engineering moments.

“I wasn’t prepared at all, but it was reassuring that people saw I was capable in a way that I wasn’t yet seeing,” Jones said.

She has participated in two internships and worked part-time with the company during the past school year.

“My internships have validated that I can be a technical engineer and do any work that I want,” Jones said. “It’s reassuring that I can work in the big aerospace and defense industry — which is really male-dominated — and I can pave the way for other women to do the same.”

Jones has been able to “put a bow on the package” of being an engineer and advocate through the Grand Challenges Scholars Program. With a project that focuses on the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges of education, now encompassed by the theme of “joy of living,” Jones has been able to take advantage of interdisciplinary opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion in engineering outside of the classroom. She also will be recognized by ASU and NAE for her efforts as a Grand Challenges Scholar when she graduates in the spring.

But her journey won’t be complete. Jones is staying at ASU for a fifth year to finish her graduate degree in electrical engineering as part of the 4+1 accelerated master’s degree program. She plans to continue to support the ASU section members of SWE and the wider engineering community to achieve their own goals.

Monique Clement

Lead communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering