Pitt | Swanson Engineering
News Listing

Jul

Jul
5
2018

EQT Foundation Supports INVESTING NOW Girls Programming with $15K Grant

Diversity

PITTSBURGH (July 5, 2018) … For a third consecutive year, the EQT Foundation has awarded the Swanson School of Engineering’s INVESTING NOW Female Empowerment Mission (FEM) a $15,000 grant to help fuel an ongoing commitment to provide enhanced, specialized opportunities for female high school students. At the Swanson School, The FEM program will focus specifically on engaging students in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). "The EQT Foundation is proud to provide continuing support for the University of Pittsburgh's INVESTING NOW Female Empowerment Mission," said Charlene Petrelli, president of the EQT Foundation. "Supporting diverse education initiatives in the areas where we operate is a priority for EQT, and it is our hope that by participating in this program, these young women will work to create change and a continued understanding of the role women have in STEM careers." “These funds will help us carry out programming designed to further inspire and encourage young women’s interest and participation in STEM fields,” added Alaine Allen, Director of the INVESTING NOW pre-college diversity program and the Pitt EXCEL undergraduate diversity program at the University of Pittsburgh. Three main objectives of the FEM program are to: increase the number of female participants interested in pursuing STEM fields, increase the number of female graduates choosing to major in STEM fields, and increase the confidence and knowledge of the young women entering college to pursue STEM majors. The EQT grant will help support monthly workshops led by female professionals, college students, and faculty in STEM fields. The workshops will include guest speakers who will share their knowledge and personal experiences and engage students in discussions and activities to help the students understand the significance of pursuing STEM majors and careers.“The high school students will also have the opportunity to share their personal stories and pre-conceptions about STEM careers and other STEM-related experiences,” Allen added.Allen and the Pitt INVESTING NOW team have a variety of other strategies planned that will benefit from the EQT funding and help achieve the FEM program objectives. They include: field trips designed to expose the students to STEM fields and provide more opportunities for the students to interact with professional STEM women; visits to colleges and universities to learn more about their respective STEM programs and enrollment requirements and to speak with faculty and students in these programs; attendance at regional or national diversity conferences to allow participants to network with female professionals who serve as role models in STEM fields; and two special outreach projects that will enable college students to provide mentoring and STEM exposure to girls in the Pittsburgh area. “For the outreach projects, we will connect with a local school districts or community-based organizations to identify opportunities to bring INVESTING NOW FEM participants to young girls in the community who would most benefit from their mentorship,” explained Allen.About INVESTING NOWCreated in 1988, INVESTING NOW is a college preparatory program created to stimulate, support, and recognize the high academic performance of pre-college students from groups that are historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and careers. The purpose of the program is to ensure that participants are well prepared for matriculation at the University of Pittsburgh. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

May

May
15
2018

Gateway Engineers along with past President establish funds to help women engineering students at Pitt

Civil & Environmental, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (May 15, 2018) … Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a greater need for engineers over the next ten years, data show that women who earn an engineering degree are less likely to work in the engineering profession.1 At the same time, the percentage of women with engineering degrees has remained flat for more than a decade.2 However, a recent gift to the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering from one of Pittsburgh’s most successful woman engineers hopes to attract more women to the profession and help to build the professional networks needed to continue in the profession. Ruthann L. Omer, P.E. earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Pitt in 1983, and was the first female municipal engineering in Allegheny County and recently retired as President of Gateway Engineers. She and Gateway Engineers established two funds at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering to help the next generation of engineers succeed at the University and beyond. While the Omer Family Scholarship Fund will support undergraduate tuition and other educational expenses and to support furthering the diversity of the undergraduate student body in the Swanson School’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Omer Family Engineering Legacy Fund established by Gateway Engineers will enhance student success by supporting the School’s award-winning chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).  Gateway Engineers’ CEO, Jason Jesso, applauds the mission of SWE. “SWE offers engineering students with opportunities to network, obtain leadership training, earn scholarships and advance their careers,” Mr. Jesso said. “We’re incredibly thankful for Gateway Engineers and Ruthann’s commitment to engineering education and student success,” noted Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. “They are well respected by their engineering peers in the region and are an example of the success our women engineering students can achieve in the profession.” The Omer Family Engineering Legacy Fund will enable Pitt SWE members to attend the national conference, beginning with WE18 in Minneapolis, October 18-20, 2018. ### For more information about how to give to these funds or other programs, visit the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs. About Gateway EngineersGateway is a full-service civil engineering and consulting firm with multiple offices that can design and manage a project from concept to completion. For more than 60 years, the company has been at the forefront of innovation in the engineering industry. Today, the company effectively and efficiently manages literally thousands of projects a year for a diverse group of clients throughout the country. Headquartered in Pittsburgh with offices in Butler, Pa. and Cecil Township, Pa., Gateway employs more than 160 and is consistently ranked as one of the top 500 firms in the U.S. by Engineering News-Record.1 Corbett, C., & Hill, C. (2015). "Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing." Washington, DC: American Association of University Women.2 Yoder, B. L. (2017). Engineering by the Numbers. American Society for Engineering Education.

Apr

Apr
24
2018

CEE’s Melissa Bilec Wins Faculty Diversity Award

Civil & Environmental, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (April 24, 2018) … US Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald Holder announced Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, is the recipient of the 2017-18 Swanson School of Engineering Faculty Diversity Award. “[Melissa’s] continued accomplishments are extremely important in helping us reach our diversity goals and national prominence in this area,” wrote Gerald Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering, in the award letter. He added that Dr. Bilec was chosen to receive the award for creating a positive and inclusive academic environment, participation in diversity related initiatives, and diversity enrichment within the community.The Faculty Diversity Award Committee specifically cited Dr. Bilec’s achievements as: Commitment to community engagement and building relationships with underserved communities where engineering skills and student projects can better the lives of others; leadership and mentorship for women in STEM, as co-advisor of PittSWE, the Society of Women Engineers, and by incorporating strategic plans to support diversity efforts in goals as part of the ELATE program; recognized excellence in mentorship, at the graduate and postdoctoral levels, including the 2016 Outstanding Mentor Award from the University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association; and service to the Swanson School in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students through campus visits and conference participation. “I am committed to diversity and inclusion efforts both professionally and personally,” said Dr. Bilec. “I’m honored to be recognized for my particular role in our shared mission to respect and empower members of the Swanson School, the surrounding community, and beyond.”The award committee included Swanson School faculty members Dr. Jeffrey Vipperman, Dr. Judith Yang, Dr. David Sanchez, Dr. Steven Abramowitch, and Dr. Robert Parker, who served as the committee’s chair. Dean Holder presented the award to Dr. Bilec at the March 14 faculty meeting.The Office of Diversity encourages each department within the Swanson School to nominate a faculty member who shows commitment to diversity through service, teaching, and research. In addition to the award, Dr. Bilec received a $2,000 grant and induction into the Office of Diversity’s Champions for Diversity Honor Roll. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
19
2018

A world of opportunities

MEMS, Diversity

From The Pitt News When Irene Mena got her U.S. citizenship Feb. 28 at the Pittsburgh Courthouse, her colleague and friend Dan Budny brought her a cake adorned with an American flag and the words “Congratulations Irene!” written under it. She ate a piece and then drove right back to her office in Benedum Hall. “After that, it was like, ‘Well, okay, back to work,’” she laughed. This relaxed attitude has governed Mena’s entire life. It’s what’s kept her passionate about teaching, performing arts and science and ensured she stays focused on her work as an assistant professor in Pitt’s mechanical engineering and materials science department. It’s also enabled her to undergo major life changes without phasing her confidence. Read the full article by Brian Gentry at The Pitt News.
Brian Gentry, Staff Writer, The Pitt News

Mar

Mar
19
2018

Swanson School faculty and STEM program among 2018 Carnegie Science Award honorees

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (March 19, 2018) – Two professors and a long-standing STEM program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are among the 2018 Carnegie Science Award honorees, presented by Carnegie Science Center. The recipients are among honorees in 17 categories announced at a reception on March 13 at Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore. Winners and honorable mentions will be honored May 4 during the Carnegie Science Awards Celebration at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.  Albert To, PhD, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, is the recipient of the Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Award. Dr. To was recognized for his research in design optimization for additive manufacturing, multiscale methods, and computational mechanics. He is actively working on developing “Lattice Structure Design Optimization” software for generating optimal lightweight design for 3D printing. Gregory Reed, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering and Director of Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute, was one of two honorable mention recipients in the Innovation in Energy category. Dr. Reed is recognized internationally for his research in advanced electric power grid and energy generation, transmission, and distribution system technologies; micro-grids and DC infrastructure development, renewable energy systems and integration; and smart grid technologies and applications. The Swanson School’s Investing Now program received an honorable mention in the Leadership in STEM Education category. Created in 1988, Investing Now a college preparatory program created to stimulate, support, and recognize the high academic performance of pre-college students from historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and careers. (Pictured from left: Justyce Hill, Kayla Ray, Nara Hernandez and Charlie Partlow) The Carnegie Science Awards champion efforts to strengthen science and technology in our region. This year’s winners range from a culinary arts teacher whose coursework extends beyond the conventional kitchen into food-science research and career exploration, to a tech start-up that secured $1 billion from Ford Motor Company. A committee of peers— past awardees and industry leaders— who rigorously reviewed nominations and selected the most deserving winners, selected winners. For more information about the awards celebration, go to CarnegieScienceCenter.org/Awards.“The Carnegie Science Awards applaud some of the most exciting leaders and innovators in our region’s science community,” said Ron Baillie, Henry Buhl, Jr., Co-Director of Carnegie Science Center. “They helped make Pittsburgh the technology hub it has become and inspire the young people who will become the next generation of professionals in the STEM fields of science, engineering, technology, and math.”Ann Metzger, Henry Buhl, Jr., Co-Director of Carnegie Science Center, said the awards are an integral part of the mission of promoting STEM education, which will be energized later this year when the Science Center’s PPG Science Pavilion opens in June and provides additional state-of-the-art classroom space. “Winners of the Carnegie Science Awards represent the pinnacle of excellence in STEM fields and STEM education,” Metzger said. “We are thrilled to recognize our amazing awardees and expect them to continue to do us proud with their accomplishments in the future.”Through the support of committed sponsors, the Carnegie Science Awards program has honored the accomplishments of more than 550 individuals and organizations. Eaton is the presenting sponsor for the Carnegie Science Awards. Chevron is the prime sponsor. ### About Carnegie Science Center Carnegie Science Center is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. By making science both relevant and fun, the Science Center’s goal is to increase science literacy in the region and motivate young people to seek careers in science and technology. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is Pittsburgh’s premier science exploration destination, reaching more than 700,000 people annually through its hands-on exhibits, camps, classes, and off-site education programs.

Jan

Jan
22
2018

Small Chapter, Big Win

Diversity, Student Profiles

KANSAS CITY, MO. (January 22, 2018) … The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) chose the University of Pittsburgh chapter as the National Outstanding Small Chapter of the Year for its efforts promoting diversity among students, advancing members academically and professionally, and encouraging students to engage with Hispanic culture.“It’s great to get national attention for all the hard work the students have put into this amazing resource for—not only Hispanic students—but the University community as a whole,” said Simeon Saunders, academic counselor at Pitt and chapter advisor. “The chapter is a small, inspired group. They continue to impress us here at Pitt and those at the SHPE national conference.”The SHPE determines the award recipient based on an annual assessment of the chapter’s activities called the National Reporting Program (NRP). The report summarizes the chapter’s progress and highlights in the categories of: Professional Development Academic Development Leadership Development Chapter Development Outreach and Community Service “A major contributor for this award was the strength of Pitt SHPE’s events, which included the annual Dia de le Raza, Noche de Ciencias, and Chocolate Night,” added Saunders.Throughout the year, Pitt SHPE hosts speakers to encourage professional development for students, study groups to improve grades, and outreach programs to help the Pittsburgh community. They also offer a variety of events to get University of Pittsburgh students interested in Hispanic culture.Current Pitt SHPE officers include: President: Alexander Mangus External Vice President: Joanna Rivero  Internal Vice President: Edward Ledesma Treasurer: Daniel Quiroga Secretary: Charles Butler III Outreach Chair: Mateus Pinho Social Chair: Olivia Lazarchick Academic Excellence Chair: Kaitlin Resendes Freshman Chairs: Valeria Tupac Yupanqui and Alexandra Zaharan Graduate Ambassador: Jorge Torres Faculty Advisors: Simeon Saunders and Dr. Irene Mena SHPE granted the award on November 4, 2017.About SHPEThe Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers comprises a national network of more than 300 chapters. SHPE’s mission is to change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support, and development. SHPE provides a variety of programming, services, and resources including hosting the largest Hispanic STEM conference in the nation.The SHPE University of Pittsburgh Student Chapter was established in 2001 by Dr. Sylvanus N. Wosu, Assistant Dean for Diversity. This group of dedicated undergraduate and graduate students works hard to promote diversity at Pitt, Hispanic culture, and the STEM fields. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer