From achieving milestones in industry, academia, and research to an array of professional and personal accomplishments, these women are making news.

Dawn White

Manufacturing Leader Earns Prestigious Award

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, along with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, has awarded Dawn White, Ph.D., of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, its M. Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal, which recognizes influencers who improve productivity and efficiency in the industry. Dr. White is the first woman to earn the medal since its inception in 1987.

Dr. White is a senior staff scientist at the Knoxville, Tennessee, laboratory, which conducts basic and applied research and development to create scientific knowledge and technological solutions that strengthen the nation’s leadership in key areas of science; increase the availability of clean, abundant energy; restore and protect the environment; and contribute to national security.

Considered an innovative scientist and engineer, Dr. White has a record of successfully managing teams to create, develop, and commercialize novel and disruptive technologies in companies of varying sizes and missions. She is a founder or co-founder of four companies that commercialized the ultrasonic additive manufacturing process, and she holds 32 U.S. and foreign patents.

Dr. White serves as the vice chair of the board of directors for the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, a cross-industry technology development consortium focused on improving the competitiveness and strength of the U.S. industrial base. She also teaches an entrepreneurship practicum at the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. She holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and an M.S. and a B.S. in materials science and engineering, all from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The Merchant Medal is named for the engineering researcher who developed an innovative mathematical model of the metal-cutting process that continues to be taught and used. He held leadership roles within the ASME, SME, and others.

Matilde Sánchez-Peña. CREDIT: University at Buffalo News

NSF Funds Equity in Engineering Education Project

Matilde Sánchez-Peña, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in engineering education at the University at Buffalo and principal investigator of a project that received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to determine why, despite more than 20 years of investment in NSF programs targeting gender equity, disparities still persist: Only about 20% of engineering students and tenure-track faculty nationwide are women.

Dr. Sánchez-Peña said her desire to make engineering more inclusive of the voices and perspectives typically missing from engineering — including women, people of color, first-generation college students, people with disabilities, and others — served as the impetus for her lab, DAREtoCARE. The name stands for Diversity Assessment Research in Engineering to Catalyze the Advancement of Respect and Equity. The NSF grant project illustrates how she envisions using math, engineering, and statistics to bring more voices to the engineering table.

Dr. Sánchez-Peña and her co-investigators will employ a two-phase approach using two modeling tools that draw from complex systems theory, a way of analyzing complicated organizational causes and effects. Phase one will involve a quality comparative analysis using data from 15 Research I institutions (defined as having “very high research activity”) that have received NSF ADVANCE grants (a program to increase women in academic science and engineering careers), and 15 comparable institutions that have not. Phase two will use systems dynamics modeling and other complex-system methodologies to bring nuances to the interactions identified in phase one. By using these tools, Dr. Sánchez-Peña seeks to demonstrate their usefulness in identifying ways to improve the effectiveness of policies that promote inclusivity, including but not limited to gender.

Dr. Sánchez-Peña holds a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, a master’s in statistics from The Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. in engineering education from Purdue University.

Aprille Joy Ericsson. CREDIT: NASA/Goddard/Bill Hrybyk

Biden Names Ericsson DOD Assistant Secretary

Aprille Joy Ericsson, Ph.D., is the new assistant secretary of defense at the U.S. Department of Defense. President Biden nominated her to fill this role, and the U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment in February.

Dr. Ericsson will take on one of the three assistant secretary of defense positions in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. These new roles replace the deputy chief technology officer role and will oversee science, technology, critical technologies, and mission capabilities. Dr. Ericsson’s area of focus is science and technology. She will oversee the Small Business Innovation Research program as well as policy affecting the defense STEM workforce, labs, and test infrastructure. She will be responsible for four of the 14 technology areas deemed critical by the Defense Department: quantum science, advanced materials, biotechnology, and next-generation wireless networks.

She brings more than 30 years of experience to federal government, mostly in the aerospace engineering industry, including more than a decade of experience in structural dynamics and controls of spacecraft missions.

Dr. Ericsson began her career in 1992 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She has held various roles of increasing responsibility, including instrument project manager, deputy to the chief technologist, program executive for Earth science, and business executive for space science.

Prior to her appointment to the Defense Department, NASA appointed her as the business lead at Goddard, where she oversaw public-private partnerships on research and development efforts.

Dr. Ericsson earned a B.S. in aeronautics/astronautics engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by an M.S. and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Howard University, where she was the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in that discipline, and later the first Black woman at NASA Goddard to earn a Ph.D. in engineering.

Laura Register. CREDIT: Terracon

Register to Lead Terracon Business Sectors

Terracon, a leading national consulting engineering firm specializing in geotechnical and environmental engineering, facility assessment, and asset management, has promoted Laura Register, P.E., to director of business sectors. Her new role is one of many shifts as the company seeks to better support client service, innovation, and project delivery.

Register joined Terracon in 2015 and is also principal and vice president of Terracon Consultants. She leads the company’s national program focused on serving clients in the strategic markets of federal, financial, health care, logistics, power, retail/commercial, transportation, and digital infrastructure. Prior to her newest role, Register served as the company’s health care sector national director.

Register is a strong supporter of advancing women in their professions. She is co-chair and founding member of Terracon’s Increasing Women In Leadership employee resource group, which launched in 2021. She has served on national and regional boards and helped establish two women’s professional associations: Women in Healthcare and AEC Power Women.

The Nashville Chapter of Women in Healthcare, formed in 2020, is part of a national organization focused on promoting the professional development of women in the health care industry. AEC Power Women is dedicated to connecting women leaders in architecture, engineering, and construction, and sponsors women for professional and community recognition. Since its founding, AEC Power Women has grown to more than 250 members across three states.

Register holds a B.E. in civil engineering from Vanderbilt University. She is a registered professional engineer in Tennessee and a LEED accredited professional.

Antonina Robles. CREDIT: SHPE
Briana Marie Pierce. CREDIT: SHPE
Carolina A. Colón. CREDIT: SHPE
Brenda Isaza. CREDIT: SHPE
Angela Maria Rucks. CREDIT: SHPE
Leah Flores-Cabrera. CREDIT: SHPE
Paola Estrada. CREDIT: SHPE
Sandra Hernández. CREDIT: SHPE
Krystal Puga. CREDIT: SHPE

SHPE Awards Recognize Excellence in STEM

Nine Hispanic women professionals and students in STEM fields were among those honored with a Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Technical Achievement and Recognition (STAR) award for changing and inspiring the lives of others through their advocacy, community outreach, research, and exemplary work within their professions. The STAR awards recognize individuals as well as companies, government agencies, and employee resource groups that best represent SHPE’s goals and mission.

Antonina Robles received the Jaime Oaxaca Award, the highest national award presented to a member for selfless and outstanding contributions in the fields of engineering and science to the Hispanic community over an extended period. Originally a firmware engineer at HP Inc., Robles is now diversity, equity, and inclusion program manger. A longtime SHPE member and former vice president, she promotes STEM education in the Treasure Valley area of Idaho.

Brenda Isaza received the Dr. Ellen Ochoa Award, which recognizes a Hispanic woman engineer or scientist who has made outstanding contributions in aerospace engineering, including management, administration, technology, and education. Isaza is a senior integrated project team manager at The Boeing Company.

Paola Estrada, who is serving in the U.S. Air Force, received the STEM Warrior Award, which recognizes a highly regarded Hispanic STEM professional in the U.S. military for leadership in a STEM field within a corporate or government organization.

Angela Maria Rucks, who received the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, serves as a business operations executive with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, focused on technology and financial services. The award recognizes a DEI leader and advocate who ensures Hispanic advancement in job promotions, business development, and community activities within an organization. At Bank of America, Rucks works toward continuous improvement and workforce diversity and inclusion. She also seeks to retain and develop top industry talent.

Sandra Hernández, Ph.D., a principal materials and corrosion engineer at Chevron Corp., received the Executive Achievement Award, Corporate, which honors a highly visible and accomplished executive who has made significant accomplishments in the scientific, technical, or engineering areas within a corporation. Dr. Hernández is also a mentor and Chevron fellow, the highest level of technical recognition that the company offers.

Briana Marie Pierce was presented the Managerial Excellence Award, Government. She serves in the U.S. Air Force. The award is presented in recognition of professional excellence in leading a STEM team or group. The recipient also demonstrates innovative leadership in managing, inspiring, and motivating project teams as well as being a DEI advocate.

SHPE presents role model awards to members who have provided selfless and outstanding contributions to the organization and to the Hispanic community. Recipients are active in SHPE and participate in community service projects. This year Carolina A. Colón, a graduate research assistant in bioengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, received the Role Model Award, Graduate, and Leah Flores-Cabrera received the Role Model Award, Undergraduate. Flores-Cabrera holds a B.S. from Michigan State University in applied engineering sciences.

Krystal Puga, who received the STAR of Today Award, Corporate, works at Northrop Grumman Corp. as a space segment systems engineer. The award honors a mid-level STEM employee who has shown technical expertise resulting in significant accomplishments. Additionally, recipients must demonstrate professionalism, integrity, and a commitment to mentoring and service.

Ljupka Vrteva. CREDIT: Andrej Kriz

Slovenia Names Vrteva Its Top Woman Engineer

As a child, Ljupka Vrteva wanted to turn her creativity and imagination into something that was visible and tangible. Growing up in a family of musicians and economists, Vrteva wanted to be different. After completing high school in North Macedonia, her imagination led her to Slovenia with only one ambition: to become an engineer.

These days, Vrteva is considered a trailblazer in solar energy development at the Petrol Group, where she has served as senior solutions developer since 2022, and earlier as a project development engineer. Her work for the Petrol Group, which specializes in fuel and petroleum products and renewable energy transition, has not gone unnoticed, nor have her efforts to promote engineering as a career option for young women. She was recently named Slovenia’s 2023 Woman Engineer of the Year.

The award, aimed at encouraging young women in STEM fields, highlights Vrteva’s exemplary career in mechanical engineering, focused on building heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. Her professional accomplishments include creating a computer program for building ventilation and serving as project manager for Petrol’s innovative solar power plant project. Vrteva’s enthusiasm for encouraging young women to pursue engineering careers was also a key factor in receiving this recognition. Despite many obstacles, including learning a new language, she knows that her decision to study engineering was the right one. “I have the opportunity to pass on my story to young girls — that each one is able to follow her own aspirations and that there will come a moment in her life when she will be grateful and proud of herself for having taken the courage to choose engineering as a career,” she said.

Vrteva holds a B.A.Sc. and an M.Sc. in power, process, and environmental engineering and an M.Sc. in mechanical engineering from the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. She continued enhancing her expertise by graduating from the EUREM Energy Manager program at the Jožef Stefan Institute in 2019.

The Woman Engineer of the Year award, now in its sixth year, is an initiative of IRT3000 magazine, the marketing firm Mediade, and their partners. A 92-member jury, including past nominees, media, and educators, selected Vrteva from 10 nominees.

Nancy Timmerman. CREDIT: Nancy Timmerman

Noise Control Institute Honors Longtime Member

Imagine having an award named in your honor to recognize your commitment and expertise in your discipline. Nancy Timmerman, P.E., recently received that honor when the Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE) named an award after her for being the first woman to serve as president of the organization, earning board certification, being named an INCE fellow, and having served on its board for many years.

The award is called the Nancy Timmerman Members’ Choice Project of the Year Award. The INCE will present it annually to acknowledge notable projects completed in the field of noise control or architectural acoustics.

Born in Chicago, Timmerman holds a B.S. in engineering from Northwestern University and an M.S. in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a longtime member of the Society of Women Engineers, the Audio Engineering Society, and the Acoustical Society of America, where she is also a fellow.

After graduation, Timmerman worked for engineering consulting firms handling noise and vibration work for heavy industry, specifically power and process facilities. It was then that she became a registered professional engineer (mechanical) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and earned INCE board certification. She later served as the organization’s first woman president and an initial fellow.

Timmerman’s career included work in materials and designs for classified Navy sonar projects at Bolt, Beranek, and Newman; power plant noise control at Stone & Webster; noise monitoring and abatement at the Massachusetts Port Authority; and independent consulting work.

Ying Shang. CREDIT: UCCS Communications

Electrical Engineer Tapped for Dean Role at UCCS

Ying Shang, Ph.D., is set to become the next dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, or UCCS. She will begin her official role in July, following her most recent role as dean of Talwar College of Engineering and Computer Sciences and professor of electrical engineering at Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dr. Shang had served as dean at Indiana Tech since 2021. Among her many accomplishments, she led the $21.4 million Zollner Engineering Center expansion and renovation; launched four new undergraduate and graduate programs and 12 undergraduate and graduate certificate programs; increased student enrollment by 300 in two years; secured five programs’ ABET accreditation; assisted the university’s $21.6 million capital campaign, leading to more than $7 million for engineering; and led the launch of the Northeast Indiana Center for Engineering to support entrepreneurship and workforce training in Northeast Indiana.

She has also worked at other academic institutions, serving as the first woman dean of the College of Engineering and Science at the University of Evansville and associate professor and chair of the department of electrical and computer engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

During her 12 years at Southern Illinois, she served as faculty advisor to the Society of Women Engineers Collegiate Section and initiated the university’s first Introduce a Girl to Engineering event. She remains a SWE member as well as a member of the American Society for Engineering Education. She is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and is currently serving on the board of
the American Council on Education Women’s Network of Indiana.

Dr. Shang is also founder and president of Shining Innovation, which primarily operates in consulting, engineering research, and new product development related to electric vehicle battery integration and energy storage.

Dr. Shang holds a B.S. in control science from Shandong University and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her expertise includes discrete-event control systems and hybrid systems with applications in communication networks, transportation systems, electric vehicles, and manufacturing systems.