By Aiesha Solomon
For The Diamondback

This month, many University of Maryland students, staff and alumni are showing support for female engineers by participating in the Women in Engineering Run the World 93 Minute Virtual Movement Challenge.

The challenge is a virtual exercise event where participants aim to complete 93 minutes of a variety of activities — such as running and biking — by the end of March. The 93 minutes is a nod to the time it takes the International Space Station to orbit the Earth.

“It’s important to encourage and empower and inspire people, to give them the confidence that they know they can be engineers,” said Becky Kenemuth, assistant director of the Women in Engineering program at this university’s engineering school.

The program honors astronaut Jeanette Epps, an alumna of this university who is set to be the first Black woman to join the International Space Station crew in 2021.

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Kenemuth was the driving force of the challenge, she said, and she took inspiration from Epps in creating the program.

“I knew that she was scheduled to be a crew member on the International Space Station this coming year,” Kenemuth said. “And we thought, ‘How fun if we could make a lot of connections.’”

About 200 people have registered for the challenge so far, Kenemuth said.

Sarah Noland, a junior mechanical engineering major and president of this university’s Society of Women Engineers chapter, started her month off with 10 minutes of yoga. She said she plans to run on a treadmill as well.

This challenge is a great way to add fun to exercise, Noland said.

“You compete on a team and work out toward a goal that’s exciting,” Noland said. “It’s just a really good group motivation type of activity.”

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Participants log their movement minutes into the WIE Run the World registration website, where they can also create and join teams. Participants are also encouraged to share their progress on social media with the hashtag #WIERunTheWorld, Kenemuth said.

There will also be three free virtual fitness classes offered as a part of the challenge, on March 11, 17 and 23. Each class will be 31 minutes long, so participants can complete their 93 minutes by attending all three classes, Kenemuth said.

Noland said she is excited for the free fitness classes and hopes to attend all three.

Emily Reichard, an alumna of this university who studied mechanical engineering, is running the classes and participating in the challenge herself.

“I’m going to try to keep it to basic movements and give everyone kind of tiers,” Reichard said. “That way, everyone has different options to choose from.”

Registration for the challenge is open all month, Kenemuth said.