From breaking the glass ceiling in industry, academia, and research to an array of accomplishments, these women are making news.

Janeen Uzzell

Appointed to Board of Advisors on HBCUs

President Biden announced in March his intent to appoint 18 qualified and diverse leaders to the President’s Board of Advisors on historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The board will advance the goal of the HBCU Initiative, established by the Carter Administration, to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to its students and continue serving as engines of opportunity.

Through the American Rescue Plan, grant funding, and by forgiving capital improvement debt of many of these institutions, the Biden-Harris Administration has already committed more than $5.8 billion in support of the mission of HBCUs. Reestablishing the White House HBCU Initiative — and appointing qualified and diverse individuals to the board — will allow the administration to build on that financial commitment with continued institutional support.

Among the newly appointed board members is Janeen Uzzell, chief executive officer of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Before assuming her role with NSBE in July 2021, she served as chief operating officer for the Wikimedia Foundation — which operates Wikipedia — driving process improvement and helping to launch the Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund to address racial inequities in free knowledge.

For nearly two decades, Uzzell held various roles with General Electric, working in health care technologies in some of the world’s most challenging environments. As the head of Women in Technology, she accelerated the number of women in technical roles. Her previous roles at GE included: global director of external affairs and technology programs; director of health care programs at GE Africa, where she lived for several years as an ex-pat in Accra, Ghana; director of global health care programs; director of health care disparity programs; and director of service operations.

Uzzell has received numerous recognitions, including the United Nations Global Leadership Award and being named one of Adweek’s Top Black Women Trailblazers in Tech. She holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and an MBA in international business from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Tejal Desai. Credit: Barbara Ries/UCSF

New Engineering Dean at Brown University

Tejal Desai, Ph.D., has been named dean of the Brown University School of Engineering. Her appointment begins Sept. 1.

An expert in applying micro- and nanoscale technologies to create new ways to deliver medicine to targeted sites in the human body, Dr. Desai is a professor and a former chair of the department of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences at the University of California, San Francisco and inaugural director of UCSF’s Health Innovation Via Engineering initiative.

She has held academic leadership positions at the University of Illinois Chicago and Boston University and has served as a member of Brown’s biomedical engineering advisory board. She holds a B.S. from Brown and a Ph.D. from the University of California, both in bioengineering and biomedical engineering.

Dr. Desai’s appointment was announced in a Jan. 12 letter from Brown President Christina H. Paxson, Ph.D., and Provost Richard M. Locke, Ph.D., to the School of Engineering community:

“In addition to her groundbreaking research, Professor Desai has been a transformative leader of programs that develop and support young researchers, foster cross-disciplinary approaches to critical engineering challenges and support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the engineering field.”

Dr. Desai’s responsibilities will include continuing to grow the school’s research enterprise with a focus on pressing societal challenges, as well as deepening research and teaching collaboration within the school and across campus. A key priority will be continuing to diversify the school’s student body at all levels while recruiting and retaining more faculty from historically underrepresented groups.

Nataša Kovačević. Credit: Kolektor

Named Slovenian Woman Engineer of the Year

Nataša Kovačević, Ph.D., was named Slovenian Woman Engineer of the Year at a recent ceremony hosted by Slovenian President Borut Pahor and held in the presidential palace. Dr. Kovačević is a project manager at Kolektor Group, a supplier for the global automotive industry. She leads Kolektor’s research concerning corrosion processes and anticorrosion protection on both magnetic and hybrid components and drive systems. Additionally, she is responsible for developing an environmentally friendly plasma process for cleaning and metallization of various materials.

She received her Ph.D. from the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Ljubljana, simultaneously conducting research as a young scholar at the Jožef Stefan Institute, where she specialized in the inhibition of corrosion process on metal surfaces.

Dr. Kovačević has been recognized for contributions to new dimensions of sustainable and ecological processes. She collaborates extensively with educational and scientific institutions through both national (Slovenian) and European Union projects and is a member of the supervisory board for MaMi, a network of research groups and companies in Europe working on magnetics and microhydrodynamics.

She shares her knowledge and experiences at workshops for secondary school children, encouraging them to pursue STEM careers. Dr. Kovačević also mentors undergraduate and Ph.D. students.

The Woman Engineer of the Year title has been awarded for the past four years as part of an initiative to bring greater visibility to women in engineering and the STEM professions, and to encourage young women to enter these fields.

Jenna Carpenter

Honored for Grand Challenges Program

The National Academy of Engineering has awarded the 2022 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education to Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) pioneers Jenna P. Carpenter, Ph.D.; Thomas C. Katsouleas, Ph.D.; Richard K. Miller, Ph.D.; and Yannis C. Yortsos, Ph.D. They are being recognized for “creating an innovative education program that prepares students to become future engineering leaders who will address the NAE Grand Challenges of Engineering.” The $500,000 annual award recognizes new methods and concepts in education aimed at developing effective engineering leaders.

Offered at engineering schools worldwide, the GCSP provides a combined curricular and extracurricular approach to prepare undergraduate students to tackle objectives that could dramatically improve quality of life around the world. Drs. Katsouleas, Miller, and Yortsos co-founded the program in 2009 at their respective universities: Duke, Olin College, and the University of Southern California. Dr. Carpenter joined the original group later and made valuable contributions, drawing on her research on integrating STEM curricula. She served for seven years as chair of the GCSP steering committee.

“The NAE is honored to recognize Carpenter, Katsouleas, Miller, and Yortsos for their tremendous impact on engineering education through the Grand Challenges Scholars Program,” said NAE President John L. Anderson, Ph.D., in a Jan. 6 NAE press release. “This groundbreaking program has changed the way students approach learning about engineering and its value to society. Without the vision, hard work, and dedication of these educators, the GCSP would not have had the impact it has on the way we educate our students.”

Dr. Carpenter is the founding dean and professor of engineering at Campbell University in North Carolina and president-elect of the American Society for Engineering Education. An expert on issues impacting the success of women in STEM and on innovative STEM curricula, she has held numerous national leadership roles, including vice president, ASEE; president, Women in Engineering ProActive Network; and first vice-president, the Mathematical Association of America, among others.

The Gordon Prize was established in 2001 as a biennial award acknowledging new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. Recognizing the potential to spur a revolution in engineering education, NAE announced in 2003 that the prize would be awarded annually.

Amy S. Fleischer. Credit: Cal Poly College of Engineering

Elected to National Deans Council Committee

Amy S. Fleischer, Ph.D., dean of the California Polytechnic State University College of Engineering, has been elected to the executive committee of the Engineering Deans Council (EDC) of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

The leadership organization of engineering deans in the U.S., the EDC currently has more than 350 members, representing 90% of all U.S. engineering deans. Dr. Fleischer’s election was announced in March during the ASEE Engineering Deans Institute annual conference.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to help shape engineering education, which we know has such a positive impact on quality of life,” Dr. Fleischer said in a news story on the Cal Poly Engineering website. “And it’s an honor to be selected by peers, who recognize Cal Poly’s excellent reputation for engineering education.”

Among the council’s objectives are to: have an influence on U.S. public policy regarding engineering education research and management; exchange information among its members; and promote diversity and inclusiveness in all aspects of engineering education, research, and engagement.

Dr. Fleischer, who has been dean of the College of Engineering since 2018, co-chairs the EDC’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee.

Kristine Newman. Credit: McCarthy Holdings

Mccarthy Holdings Announces New Chief Financial Officer

McCarthy Holdings Inc., one of the United States’ largest 100% employee-owned construction companies, recently promoted Kristine Newman to chief financial officer. Prior to assuming this role, Newman served as executive vice president for the company. She replaces retiring CFO Doug Audiffred and reports directly to McCarthy Holdings Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ray Sedey.

Newman joined McCarthy in 2005 as controller for the builder’s southwest region and was promoted to vice president, finance in 2016 and senior vice president, finance in 2018. In 2019, she assumed the executive vice president, finance position and became a member of McCarthy’s enterprise leadership team. Now as CFO, she will be responsible for all accounting, finance, and insurance components of McCarthy, including cash management, investments, internal audit financial reporting, and risk management.

Newman began her career with Arthur Andersen LLP, working on audit and consulting engagements in the firm’s Chicago and Phoenix offices, prior to joining McCarthy. An Indiana native, Newman earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Purdue University and is a certified public accountant.She was recognized by AZ Business Magazine as one of the “Most Influential Women in Commercial Real Estate for 2019.” She serves on the national committee for the McCarthy Partnership for Women, the firm’s employee resource group dedicated to recruiting, developing, and retaining women. Newman is on the board of directors for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, is past president and current member of the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Construction Financial Management Association, and is past chair of the board of directors for UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix.

Elected to National Academy of Engineering

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected 111 new members and 22 international members, bringing the total U.S. membership to 2,388 and the number of international members to 310.

Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during the NAE’s annual meeting on Oct. 2. This year’s new members include 37 women:
MiMi A. Aung, Amazon Kuiper Systems LLC
Anna C. Balazs, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
Kathleen Bergeron, Apple Inc.
Rena Bizios, Ph.D., The University of Texas at San Antonio
Jian Cao, Ph.D., Northwestern University
Norma B. Clayton, The Boeing Company
Marian R. Croak, Ph.D., Google LLC
Mary Czerwinski, Ph.D., Microsoft Research
Nancy J. Dudney, Ph.D., Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Nuria I. Fernandez, Federal Transit Administration
Barbara A. Filas, P.E., Independent Consultant
Denise Gray, LG Energy Solution Michigan Inc.
Jill M. Hruby, Department of Energy
Nola M. Hylton, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
Anna Karlin, Ph.D., University of Washington
Theresa Kotanchek, Ph.D., Evolved Analytics LLC
Rebecca Liebert, Ph.D., PPG Industries Inc.
Kathryn Lueders, NASA
Sandra H. Magnus, Ph.D., AstroPlanetview LLC
Michele V. Manuel, Ph.D., University of Florida
Klara Nahrstedt, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Maryann T. Phipps, Estructure Inc.
Zorana B. Popovic, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder
Sarah A. Rajala, Ph.D., Iowa State University
Julie M. Schoenung, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
Kate M. Scow, Ph.D., University of California, Davis
Leslie L. Shoemaker, Ph.D., Tetra Tech Inc.
Deepika B. Singh, D.Sc., R&D Investment Holdings LLC
Manuela Veloso, Ph.D., JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Solveig M. Ward, Quanta Technology LLC
Telle Whitney, Ph.D., Telle Whitney Consulting LLC
Karen Willcox, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin
Taiyin Yang, Ph.D., Gilead Sciences Inc.

Gurumoorthy Bhuvaneswari, Ph.D., Mahindra University
Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D., Pfizer Inc.
Bin Liu, Ph.D., National University of Singapore
Heike Riel, Ph.D., IBM Research, Zurich

Kathi Vidal. Credit: Jay Premack/USPTO

Director of Patent and Trademark Office

Kathi Vidal, J.D., President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was confirmed by the Senate on April 5. Vidal is the second woman to hold the dual roles of under secretary of commerce for intellectual property (IP) and USPTO director. She will provide leadership and oversight to one of the largest IP offices in the world and serve as principal advisor to Biden through U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Ph.D., on domestic and international IP policy.

Prior to joining the USPTO, Vidal was a managing partner and executive committee member with Winston & Strawn LLP, where she represented both patent holders and defendants in U.S. district courts and the International Trade Commission. She has also been deeply involved in practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, argued numerous Federal Circuit appeals, and led amicus efforts on important cases before the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court.

Vidal holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Binghamton University, an M.S. in electrical engineering from Syracuse University, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. She began her career as a systems and software design engineer with General Electric and Lockheed Martin, where she designed one of the first artificial intelligence systems for aircraft, as well as aircraft and engine-control systems.

She has spent her career championing the importance of mentoring and expanding opportunities to include more individuals from underserved communities. She has played an active role on the advisory board of ChIPs (women in technology, law, and policy) and on other boards and committees focused on diversity and inclusion, and has mentored diverse women across the globe as part of the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program.

Sabrina Nilufar. Credit: Russell Bailey

NSF Grant Awarded to Study “Sandwich” Structures

Sabrina Nilufar, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Materials Engineering, has received a two-year, $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study how to construct “sandwich” structures using additive manufacturing. Dr. Nilufar is the current SWE faculty advisor at the university.

Sandwich structures comprise two outer face sheets separated by a lightweight, low-density core structure or foam. The engineering concept has found its way into numerous applications, including aerospace, sport, marine, military, thermal insulation, vibration and acoustic isolation, and automotive parts.

The traditional manufacturing process for sandwich materials can be wasteful and limited, while additive manufacturing allows builders to fabricate objects or custom tailor parts with complex geometry directly from 3D models to meet specific applications.

The additive manufacturing process may hold the key to both increased efficiency and better-quality parts, especially when combined with triply periodic minimal surface (TPMS) architecture, which uses complex geometries found in nature to improve strength and weight ratios.

“The aim of my research is to set a solid foundation of manufacturing sandwiches with TPMS-based core lattice for specific engineering applications,” Dr. Nilufar said in an April 4 Southern Illinois University press release.

Dr. Nilufar hopes to reveal the mechanisms and thermomechanical properties of various core structures that can be created with TPMS architecture. Her approach will integrate numerical and experimental methods to find out what manufacturers might achieve using additive processes.

Among the advantages of additive manufacturing are a relatively low cost for acquiring the equipment, less material waste, improved energy efficiency, and easier inventory management. The process also makes it easier to do short runs of rarely needed parts, or to create hard-to-find legacy parts for older machines.

Dr. Nilufar and her research team will develop 3D models to predict thermomechanical properties for various core topologies. The work will involve multiple disciplines, including engineering mechanics, materials science, and additive manufacturing. The grant will support the research of both graduate and undergraduate students and encourage par-ticipation by underrepresented minorities in science and engineering.