Fellow Grade

Karen Horton, P.E.

University of Maine

For advancing women in STEM by addressing gender bias; for a commitment to students’ success in and out of the classroom; and for outstanding leadership that demonstrates SWE’s mission.

Karen J. Horton, P.E., is a professor of mechanical engineering technology (MET) at the University of Maine (UMaine) and a licensed professional engineer in the state of Maine. Horton teaches undergraduate introductory and upper-division MET courses in mechanical design and industrial vibrations. She also serves as program coordinator working with faculty to ensure the curriculum meets accreditation standards. She is ardent about preparing graduates for professional practice through technical excellence, critical thinking, and developing strong interpersonal skills.

Prior to her academic appointment, Horton worked as a mechanical engineer for Bath Iron Works, a shipbuilding firm in Maine. Her first position as a mechanical engineer was at the Naval Coastal Systems Center in Panama City, Florida, where she collaborated with David Taylor Model Basin engineers on tests of lift, drag, and vibration characteristics of cables.

At UMaine, Horton served as the founding interim director and co-principal investigator on the five-year, $3.5 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE Rising Tide Center grant to increase recruitment, retention, and advancement of women faculty in STEM and social and behavioral sciences. Awarded in 2010, the grant supported measurable increases in faculty satisfaction with the institutional climate. Over 10 years, the percentage of tenure track and tenured women in engineering increased from 8% to 19%. She was awarded the 2012 University of Maine Presidential Public Service Achievement Award for her accomplishments.

Horton continues to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering fields through her service to the Society of Women Engineers, first with the Arizona State University collegiate section and now with the Maine section. Over nearly 40 years of affiliation with SWE, Horton has served in different capacities: secretary, treasurer, awards judge, SWE counselor, and vice president. She currently serves on the research advisory council, which recommends research topics and provides expert feedback on current SWE research, among other responsibilities. She has attended regional and annual SWE conferences and business meetings.

Even within these various commitments, Horton has kept students and their progress as a major focus. Since 2003, she has served as the advisor of the UMaine collegiate section, which has earned the SWE Mission Award at the Bronze and Silver levels and the Outstanding Collegiate Section at the Silver Level. For her outstanding guidance of the section, she received the Outstanding SWE Counselor Award in 2010.

For nine years, Horton worked as director and assistant director of creative design at CAD Camp, a weeklong residential computer-aided design camp for girls in grades 9-12. She raised $120,000 disbursed to 155 scholarships for campers from underrepresented groups. Nearly 300 students attended over time.

A SWE senior life member, Horton holds an M.S. in industrial mathematics from the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany; a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering, summa cum laude, from Arizona State University; and a B.S. in education from the State University of New York College at Oneonta, New York. Horton lives in Old Town, Maine, and sings in choirs. She also is completing a B.A. in music from the University of Maine, expected in 2023.