Women Leading Change: Celebrating the Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award

At our recent Virtual Gala: Thank You Science, we recognized the outstanding individuals and organizations who are active in their communities, inspiring lifelong learning and making a difference.  The 2021 Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award honorees and finalists were announced and we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight their work. You will quickly see how each and every one embody our mission here at the Connecticut Science Center, and why each was honored with an award.

The Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award Individual Honoree recognizes a woman working in STEM who is a leader in her field, and who makes a significant effort to support other women and encourages girls’ interest in STEM. The honoree is selected by the Connecticut Science Center’s Women in Science steering committee.

Andrea Kwaczala, PhD. is the 2021 Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award Honoree. Andrea is a Biomedical Engineering faculty member at Western New England University. She is passionate about building assistive devices to help people with limited mobility. Her work has spanned from the design of golf assistive devices, low-cost prosthetic technology, to her favorite project, building electric cars for kids at Shriners Hospitals for Children. She inspires her students to pursue and persist in STEM careers by promoting technical skills. She uses makerspace activities that use a constructionist approach to recognize the societal impact of our innovations. She is actively involved in the Society of Women Engineers and serves as the Outreach Chair of the Hartford Chapter. In outreach, Andrea lives for opportunities to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, tinkerers, and builders to think big, come up with novel ideas and to learn through failure.

Sivani Arvapalli is the 2021 Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award Youth Honoree. She is the technology captain of her Science Olympiad team and has earned numerous medals in state-wide competitions. Sivani is highly involved with FIRST robotics as she has mentored various FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams and even hosted her town’s first FLL event with South Windsor FIRST. Sivani is her team’s plasma cutter and a key member of the marketing and business administration team. In addition, Sivani is the founder and president of the Be The Change Club, a club that aims to teach kids the importance of volunteering. She is also the vice president of the Model UN Club and president of the Interact Club. She strives to challenge herself academically with rigorous STEM classes such as AP Computer Science and AP Biology. Her most significant achievements include being named Connecticut’s Volunteer of the Year in 2018 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and being named a Dean’s List Finalist for New England.

Congratulations Dr. Kwaczala and Sivani for being selected as the 2021 Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award Honorees. Be sure to read more about all of the 2021 STEM Achievement Award Honorees and Finalists to learn about the amazing work they are doing in the community as well.

For more information about the Connecticut Science Center’s mission and work, visit CTScienceCenter.org/Awards.

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Katelyn Rutty is the Communications Coordinator at the Connecticut Science Center where she manages all of the online content platforms. She has a Masters in Business Administration from Western New England University.