Women succeed in engineering

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UVM alumni have won three of the most influential engineering awards in the state.

Carolyn Carlson ‘85, Jennifer Fitch ’02 and Karin Emanuelson ’14 showed outstanding personal achievements in the engineering field.

Carlson was named Vermont Engineer of the Year for 2014, while Fitch won the Young Engineer of the Year award.

The Vermont Student Engineer of the Year award was granted to Emanuelson, who concentrated in environmental engineering during her time at UVM, according to the Nov. 19 press release.

“I am very proud of the success our alumni and students are having, and of the role UVM is playing in changing perceptions of the success of women in engineering,” said Luis Garcia, dean of UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

“It is great to be able to highlight three women engineers all at once and focus our attention on the great work and great success of women in engineering,” he said.

There was a huge gap in gender in the number of engineering students in colleges, according to the press release.

Women make up more than half of total college students nationwide, while only 20 percent of the engineering students are women, according to the press release.

“Obviously with the three awards that three of our women alumni received, it highlights the quality of our students and how well they do in their work,” Garcia said.

The College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences has been working hard to make the college a supportive environment for all of the students, Garcia said.

“We have programs to help all of our students succeed and those apply to women as well as men,” he said.

“In engineering we have both some outstanding faculty members as well as some great student advisors in our CEMS student advising office,” Garcia said.

“We also have a student chapter of the Society of Women in Engineering.”

Times have changed since Carlson was a student at UVM, based on Fitch and Emanuelson’s experiences as female UVM engineering students, according to the press release.

There were no female faculty back in the early 80’s and relationships with her professors developed only after Carlson graduated, according to the press release.

Fitch had great relationships with her professors, according to the press release.

Emanuelson’s role model was Donna Rizzo, an engineering faculty member and active researcher, according to the press release.

This shows that progress is being made, Garica said. Senior Elena Melloni, an engineering student, agrees with Garcia.

“I think women have increasingly been encouraged to be engineers and the more women that are in the field makes it more approachable to enroll,” Melloni said.