Women engineers building
By Josephine P. Pipkin
by Ian Bradshaw
came from families of engineers and some didnt even know
what an engineer was. Some met resistance along the way and some
received a helping
hand. Women in the School of Engineering and Applied Science are
a varied group. But the 21 women faculty and 635 female undergraduate
and graduate students all agree that the Engineering School is
a great place to develop your career.
Burns, assistant professor of civil engineering, came from a family
full of engineers and scientists.
a child I was strongly encouraged by my parents to study engineering.
My dad is an engineer and has worked for NASA all his life. My
mother was a chemist who researched rocket fuels in the early
days of the space program, she said. Becoming
a civil engineer was a natural fit for her, a woman who from her
early years was attracted to the field because of its people-serving,
found the idea of working as an engineer to provide for the basic
needs of society to be very appealing, Burns said.
by Ian Bradshaw
Brandt-Pearce, associate professor of electrical engineering,
is also the daughter of an engineer.
always leaned toward the mathematical/theoretical and I was encouraged
to excel in whatever I chose, said Brandt-Pearce. I
came to this country from South America when I was 11 years old.
I knew my field of interest was never going to be English, but
the language of science and math was universal and in that I knew
I could do well.
Moored and Erika Andrews, both fourth-year aerospace engineering
students, also have engineers and scientists in their families.
Both young women are part of the new wave of female engineering
students for whom gender is not an issue.
was always interested in space and rockets, Andrews said.
I watched movies about space but it never occurred to me
that I was only seeing men. I had no problem seeing myself as
a future engineer.
describes a welcoming environment at U.Va.
liked the idea of engineering from the first because it teaches
you how to think and how to solve problems. Ive never experienced
any discomfort because I was a woman either here in my classes
or in the internship I did this summer at NASA, she said.
women faculty, on the other hand, report little exposure to engineers
in their formative years.
by Rebecca Arrington
was good in math and science in high school, and a counselor said
I should consider becoming an engineer, recalled Christina
Mastrangelo, associate professor of systems and information engineering.
the time, I didnt even know what that meant. Once I discovered
what an engineer was and did, I was attracted to the field
in part because it was challenging and non-traditional.
Bechta Dugan, professor of electrical and computer engineering,
had little early support from her parents for going to college.
Her mother feared a professional career would hinder her chance
to marry and have a family, she said.
am personally very motivated by people telling me what I cant
do, said Dugan. I chose to major in math because it
was something girls didnt do. She was only the second
woman to receive a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Duke University.
She eventually married and became the mother of two.
by Jim Carpenter
women have been slow to take their places in the field of engineering.
really an issue of image and knowledge that keeps women out of
the field, said Jill Tietjen, a 1976 alumna who is an author
and promotional speaker on women and engineering. Our job
now is to raise awareness and provide more role models and encouragement.
that tinkering-in-the-basement mode of discovery that attracts
people to pursue engineering, said Deborah G. Johnson, the
newly appointed Olsson Chair of Applied Ethics in the Division
of Technology, Culture, and Communication. Not too many
women spent their time down in the basements in those early days
and even now the change is slow.
Johnson believes change will come.
ability to invent and create keeps growing, and so does the importance
of exploring questions related to technology and societal issues.
This exploration can only be helped by having more women join
the field, she said. (For more on Johnson, see related story,
by Ian Bradshaw
Guerlain, assistant professor of systems and information engineering,
adds that the Internet may be helping these days in making it
easier to expose young women to the field, as well as get information
about it. And the more female faculty we have, the more
female students and faculty we will get, she said.
number of female faculty in the Engineering School has reached
21, or 13 percent, of the total 159. There is higher growth in
the student population especially at the graduate level,
which promises more women engineers. Out of 603 graduate students,
138, or 23 percent, are female. Among the 1,987 undergraduates,
497, or 25 percent, are female.
women in academia nationwide continue to report significant barriers
to success in the field, that doesnt seem to be the case
never felt my gender kept me back and certainly not here at U.Va.
Ive never felt that I was treated differently than any other
colleague, Mastrangelo said.
is a supportive atmosphere here, she said. It is more
cooperative than competitive.
Richard Miksad sees the issue in terms of building a school of
excellence for all faculty and students.
question isnt about how to attract women, Miksad said.
Its about how to attract people who would be a success
anywhere. How do you create a situation that allows them to blossom
as a person and as a professional? This is important to our faculty
regardless of age or gender. We try to make sure we create a situation
where people feel equal.
Brandt-Pearce associate professor of electrical engineering;
B.S., electrical engineering and B.A., applied mathematics, M.E.E.
and Ph.D., Rice University
goal in designing communication systems is to get more with less.
She works on developing wireless systems that can use smaller
phones and less bandwidth to get more capacity, more calls, higher
data rates and better quality. She designs systems to get more
data through existing fibers, smaller-diameter fibers and longer
came to U.Va. in 1993 after working for four years at Lockheed
ECS in support of the NASA Johnson Space Center.
E. Burns assistant professor of civil engineering;
B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., Georgia Tech
researches more efficient and innovative ways to clean up contamination
in the environment, using techniques to absorb contaminants from
groundwater or substances that react with and alter contaminants
to render them less harmful.
In the four years she has been with the Engineering School, she
and her students have worked on projects involving the clean up
of TNT from contaminated soil and groundwater at military bases
throughout the country. The work focuses on breaking the contaminants
down in situ, rather than extracting them from the ground for
treatment, and has been performed in collaboration with the Army
Corps of Engineers.
Bechta Dugan professor of electrical engineering; B.A.,
mathematics and computer science, La Salle, M.S. and Ph.D., electrical
evaluates hardware and software reliability, particularly for
critical applications, where failures could prove disastrous.
She and Kevin Sullivan, an associate professor in computer science,
developed Galileo, a software tool for dynamic fault tree analysis,
under contract to NASA Langley Research Center.
Guerlain assistant professor of systems and information
engineering, B.S., Tufts, M.S. and Ph.D., Ohio State
takes into account the human factors of engineering. She designs
computer-based systems that fit human capabilities and limitations
and aid in problem-solving. Co-director of the U.Va. Human-Computer
Interaction Lab, Guerlain has worked on systems applied to medical,
industrial and military operations. Currently she is working on
an NSF-funded project to study team communication and coordination
in the operating room and to develop a computer-based training
system on surgical decision-making skills.
M. Mastrangelo assistant professor of systems and information
engineering; B.S., M.S. and Ph.D., industrial engineering, Arizona
who has been on the faculty since 1993, looks at variables that
affect specific technology and applies that information to various
applications. She has several years of industrial experience in
aerospace manufacturing, and the majority of her industrial and
education experience has been related to improving process quality
and quality planning.
Ada Byron Lovelace (1815-1852) collaborated with
Charles Babbage, the Englishman credited with inventing
the forerunner of the modern computer. She wrote a paper
in 1843 that anticipated the development of computer software
(including the term software), artificial intelligence and
computer music. The Department of Defense computer language
ADA is named for her.
Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992), a rear admiral in
the U.S. Navy, developed the first computer compiler in
1952 and originated the concept that computer programs could
be written in English. She discovered that a moth had jammed
the works of an early computer and popularized the term
bug. In 1991, Hopper became the first woman
to receive the National Medal of Technology. One of the
Navys newest destroyers the U.S.S. Hopper
is named for her.
Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000) the 1940s actress
known for her line, Any girl can be glamorous. All
you have to do is stand still and look stupid, invented
a sophisticated and unique anti-jamming device for use against
Nazi radar. The U.S. War Department rejected her design,
but after her patent expired, Sylvania used the design for
a device that now speeds satellite communications around
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