Summer 2003 NCSU Bio and Ag Alumni and Friends Newsletter

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In This Issue Opening the Way for Women in Engineering Practice ........ 1 Faculty News ......................... 2 Department Head’s Comments ............................. 3 Women’s Historical Educational Milestones ......... 4 Insights From BAE Women in Engineering Practice ............. 4 Perspectives of BAE Alumnae ................................ 5 Spring Graduate Listing ....... 8 Creating a new tradition... This year’s Student Awards and Honors were presented at an informal luncheon/ cookout. Hosted by the BAE Club branch of the ASAE, they served hotdogs, hamburgers, and all the fixin’s. Alumni wishing to attend BAE events should give the main office a call. All events are listed on the BAE website calendar button.

Visit the BAE home page at: Fax comments & questions to: BAE News 919-515-6772

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Summer 2003

Opening the Way for Women in Engineering Practice A hundred years ago, women’s activities were primarily domestic, involving child nurturing and homemaking. Yet, women have always sought outlets to exercise their deeper intellectual capabilities despite their roles. If one truth is universal about culture it is that those societies that invite and enSeveral BAE students present a senior courage intellectual freedom for design project. More women are in the everyone are healthier, happier BAE program than ever before. places to live. For women specifically, this means building and broadening their lives beyond the home and utilizing all of their unique potential and intellectual wealth for the benefit of society. An achievement of the 20th century is the increase in the number of women earning advanced degrees, challenging cultural norms, and taking advantage of technology that frees up time for women to learn and participate in the workplace. Women have made many gains, although it has been a long and arduous struggle. A timeline outlines some educational milestones achieved by U.S. women on pages 4 and 5. The improving statistics for women in engineering fields is a positive indication that women are moving in a forward direction. Opportunities are opening up for women with the right combination of skills and qualifications. Opportunities are even greater for graduates who have participated in internships, field research experiences, and part-time engineering work experiences. The engineering industry is seeking diversity in its workforce by realizing that it is good business to invite people of different backgrounds and genders. In a global economy that spans many cultures, tackling problems from many viewpoints is essential. There are several positive aspects of having women in the engineering workforce. First, it brings women’s knowledge base to light, utilizing their unique thought and problem-solving patterns and skills. Second, it can add additional richness to the spectrum of concerns and directions to take in solving problems in engineering fields. The National Science Foundation (NSF) reported in 2000 that women continued on page 2

BAE Alumni & Friends – 1

Several New Tenure-Track Faculty Are Appointed Dr. Ratna Sharma is the first of two new female professors to be hired for research and teaching in bioprocessing. Sharma comes to us after receiving her PhD from Pennsylvania State University and working as a teaching assistant there. Her doctorate was in processing for value addition to food products with an emphasis on food safety. Dr. Mari Chinn will arrive in August also for research and teaching in bioprocessing. She will begin her career here after earning her PhD from the University of Kentucky. She is interested in microbial fermentations applied in the area of value-added bioconversion for the production of bio-based industrial products. Both bioprocessing professors are eager to engage our BAE students in their interest areas. continued on page 4

Department Head Writer Graphics/Layout Editor Advisor

James Young Carolyn Mitkowski Carolyn Mitkowski Rhonda Sherman Mike Boyette

BAE Alumni&Friends is a semi-annual publication of the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, North Carolina State University, Box 7625, Raleigh, NC 27695-7625. If you would like to contribute to the next issue of BAE Alumni&Friends, please send your contributions to the above address or email us at:

2 – BAE Alumni & Friends

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Faculty News

Opening the Way

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represented 10 percent of the engineering workforce worldwide. The first chart below shows the ratio of males and females who earned bachelor degrees in the U.S. Despite their professional gains, women are still under-represented in engineering fields. More public education about this issue is needed to promote engineering education and the professional retention of women. As women generally lean toward engineering issues that focus on helping and protecting things, promoting it from this aspect should make engineering A student studies a a more attractive choice. Early hands-on learning and data sheet to solve a exposure to the vast array of career choices in the technical problem. engineering realm can help. Retaining women in engineering jobs is another challenge. More womanto-woman mentoring experiences and female role models are key to increasing numbers of women both entering the field and staying the course. Women engineers need to shed any misplaced expectations to prove themselves or outperform others just because they are women. Women tend to be hard on themselves and other women in an effort to avoid displaying gender bias. Women need to encourage each other by promoting more women-to-women networking and collaboration. To become more comfortable in the field, women should seek out mentoring opportunities, taking advantage of the experiences of others. Addressing women’s pay Earned Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering by Sex compensation to make numbers in the thousands engineering worth the effort is yet another issue. NSF data reveals that women start their careers with pay similar to men, but over time loose ground. In general, women earn between $3,000 to $10,000 less than their male counterparts. Cited as one possible cause is the fact that women tend to move in and out of the work-force more Median Annual Salaries of U. S. Engineers frequently, interrupting their careers, and not attaining a consistency which would bring them recognition and voice at managerial levels. The search for equality through reaching higher levels professionally is still on-going. ! Years Since Degree

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The BAE department has been very fortunate during the past six months to employ a number of new faculty members. This has been aided by the two new positions provided to the department by the Provost following the decision to create a separate biomedical engineering department to which Drs. Blanchard and Mente will be transferred. Two new positions in the area of bioprocess engineering have been filled which are expected to greatly improve our capabilities in this important concentration area. Dr. James H. Young Ratna Sharma began her appointment in the department on May 1st and Dr. Mari Chinn will begin in August. It is anticipated that these positions will emphasize research and teaching in the area of production of energy and/or value-added products from biological materials. This work is expected to reduce our dependence on imported oil and to help rejuvenate the rural economy of North Carolina. We have also filled two tenure-track positions with extension/teaching appointments. On May 1st, Dr. Garry Grabow began his new responsibilities as an assistant professor in the area of management of wastewater from animal production systems. In August, Dr. Sanjay Shah will join the department with responsibilities in the area of air quality and odors related to animal production systems. These four new tenure-track faculty members will each have some teaching responsibilities. This is part of an attempt within the department to better integrate the three functions of a land grant university. The same individuals who conduct cutting edge research and/or develop outstanding extension programs will be involved in passing along information to undergraduate and graduate students in the department. We also welcome Dr. Frank Abrams back to the BAE department. He will actually have an appointment which is one-half in BAE and one-half in the new BME department. In addition, Dr. Mike Burchell, who recently completed his PhD in the department, has accepted an Extension Assistant Professor position to work in the stream and wetland restoration and water quality area. Mr. Dan Clinton and Mr. Kris Bass (both MS graduates of the department) have also accepted positions as Extension Associates. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Section of ASAE for planning a very successful program in May on “Confronting Legal Issues in the Practice of Engineering.” Mike Boyette and Larry Coats were specially involved in the development of the program. Also, Ann Griffin and Ervin Humphries deserve special recognition for their work in planning the first annual Bob Bottcher Memorial Golf Tournament which was held on Thursday, May 1st prior to the State Section Meeting. Proceeds from the tournament went to the Robert W. Bottcher Memorial Biological and Agricultural Engineering Endowment. This endowment will provide assistance in the way of flexible operating funds for a new assistant professor in the department with special consideration for a faculty member conducting research in the air quality area. The Bottcher Endowment is one of many ways through which you can support the BAE department and its students. Some of these are listed at the following URL: As state support of the university has decreased, contributions from alumni and friends of the department play an increasingly critical role in helping us to carry out our mission. Thanks for your continued support.

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Department Head’s Comments

Faculty News continued from page 2

Dr. Gary Grabow has moved to a tenure-track assistant professor position in the department with an extension/teaching appointment. He will apply his expertise in water quality issues to the animal waste area as it relates to wastewater management. Grabow has twenty years of experience in water resources and a strong background in irrigation, hydrology, hydraulics, water quality, and statistical analysis. Dr. Sanjay Shah will join the department in August with an extension/teaching appointment with an emphasis on the area of air quality as affected by animal production facilities. He comes to us from West Virginia where he has served in extension for approximately three years after receiving his PhD from Virginia Tech. Former Faculty William E. Splinter has been named as the 2003 honoree to the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement. Splinter taught in the BAE dept. for 14 years before becoming a professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. !

Student News This Senior Design team presented its project at this year’s undergraduate symposium, winning a monetary award. From left to right, top row: Lindsay Sallach, Blake Edwards, Julie Poore, Laura Hill. On the bottom row are Jaci Harrell, and Stephanie Southard, Note: This team was almost all women. In the future this workplace workgroup scenario may not be uncommon.

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Historical Milestones ! Early 1700’s - In some religious families men taught women to read the Bible to teach children morals. ! 1775 - Vacant seats in boys’ classrooms during the Revolutionary War offered girls a chance for learning. ! Early 1820’s - The first seminary (women’s college) was started in America. Other seminaries emerged as women opened small schools to teach other women. Advanced knowledge of mathematics and chemistry were taught under the pretense of improving cooking and home budgeting. ! 1830’s - States offered a primary education to girls. During this time a secondary education was gaining acceptance. A college level education was rare and only for those of wealth. ! In 1862 - During the chaos of the American Civil War, Congress established the Morrill Land Act, creating land-grant colleges (NC State is a land-grant university). One statement in the Act opened an opportunity for women to attend and earn a general college education: land-grant colleges are to accept anyone who will pay, including women. Don’t get excited for women yet… ! 1860 to 1899 - Some women graduated from colleges, however, they dealt with social prejudice, educational discrimination, and financial challenges to attend. Women who did graduate had few employment choices, some moved out west to teach in prairie states. Women as well as men were shaping America from border to border in the second half of the 18th century. This is when we see the first women on record completing college engineering programs. continued on page 5

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Women’s Education

Insights from BAE Women in Engineering Practice BAE has written its own unique women’s history and the charts on these pages reveal BAE’s progress and future potential opportunities. Women first arrived in BAE at a time coinciding with the 1974 Women’s Education Equity Act, promoting opportunities for women in education. In 1978, the first woman engineer, Elaine Plauche, graduated from our undergraduate program with a SBE degree. In 1980, women first earned graduate degrees at BAE; Nagwa El-Shaik, of Egypt, was awarded the first MS and Pitsamai Purisinsit, of Thailand, received the first PhD. Then in 1991, Linda Leigh became the first African-American woman to earn an undergraduate degree from BAE. From 1978-89, BAE graduated 21 women engineers. A lull in the numbers followed until the mid-1990s when a dramatic upsurge coincided with the introduction of biomedical engineering at BAE. Women were attracted to the helping and healing aspects of BME. A total of 120 women engineers have graduated from the department to date. Prior to the 1970s, engineering (especially agricultural engineering, due to its labor intensiveness and machinery scale) was considered a maleoriented study area. With recent new technologies and methods developing, this factor is now diminishing. Environmental studies have also become more attractive to women. Women are truly enjoying the outdoors and realizing they can study environmental subjects successfully. Field sites are now more accessible with the use of 4-wheel drive vehicles. Cell phones are the latest technology, helping women to venture out of the classrooms with increased confidence about their safety. Bioprocessing is very inviting to women who like to work with processes, total systems and data sorting engineering. To learn what is working for women in the engineering workforce we spoke with female BAE faculty and alumni. The side-bars on pages 6-7 have updates and insights from two alumni who are currently working in engineering. The first person who comes to mind on the subject of women engineers is Prof. Frances “Billie” M. Richardson. She is a first in many ways. Richardson is both BAE’s first female faculty member and emeritus faculty. Forty-one years at NCSU and five years at Prof. F. Richardson BAE, she was the only woman faculty member in the College of Engineering for twenty of those years. She says, “I never minded working with men; it was always about the research and learning for me --as it should be.” With her degrees in chemistry, Richardson has pursued and imparted her knowledge in several engineering areas such as chemistry, physics, nuclear engineering, and currently, biomedical engineering. Richardson was the first to note a strong student interest in the biomedical aspects of engineering, so she took a year’s leave of absence to work and learn at the well-known Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case/ Western Reserve. On her return she taught biomedical engineering within

Dr. Blanchard works with several students on a homework problem. Seeing women as faculty is positive.

“Special Topics in Chemical Engineering” and taught an elective course, “Introduction to Biomedical Engineering.” The latter attracted a steady flow of students, many of them women. Richardson joined the then all male BAE department faculty in 1990. Her research interests complemented other ongoing department research and so did she. Through the years, her love of engineering was expressed through mentoring many women in engineering programs at NCSU. Richardson says, “It has always been important to me to see more women enjoy the engineering sciences, just as I have, and I believe strongly that mentoring and supporting women is one way to do this.” She started the Student Section of the Society of Women Engineers at NCSU, which has won several awards. An emeritus faculty for 5 years, she still makes her presence felt in the halls of BAE. Richardson says, “It’s important that women see other women accomplishing and improving even with age.” Dr. Susan Blanchard teaches biomedical engineering today. She has, through hard work and dedication, helped to grow the concentration enormously and has been a positive influence in the BAE program through the years. Her efforts have positioned her as a strong faculty member, supporting and championing student achievements. She carries her strength straight to the students and from the start inspired many young women to continue their studies, to find just the right combination of engineering studies they enjoy. Susan says, “If I feel a student is not moving in the right direction with his/her studies, I take the time to learn what it is he/she wants from an engineering program and give him/her the advice and direction he/ continued on page 6

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W omen helping each other creates bonds for the future.

Women’s Education continued from page 4

! Early 1900’s - The industrial revolution’s growing cities and immigrant populations created more demand for educators and other skills deemed “women safe,” like nurses and secretarial workers. The usefulness of an advanced education for a growing country became apparent. A basic education had become a good thing. ! 1945 - World War II put women into traditional men’s jobs, even if only temporarily. Women with engineering degrees were sought out by the government— the era was emancipating for many homemakers and its effects are still seen today. ! 1950’s - After WW II was over, the government focused on space exploration and technological research. Parents of this time yearned to provide an improved life focusing on their childrens education. An advanced education was now a coveted thing to gain. The government noted a shortage of trained engineers for its space programs and highlighted engineering opportunities to the public. Engineering schools began seeing women as potential students. ! 1960’s - As the feminist movement surfaced, government acts helped women gain educational footholds. The 1963 Equal Pay Act first introduced to congress in 1872 finally passed. The act prohibited discrimination in admissions policies to federally assisted educational programs, opening graduate level programs to women. ! In 1974, the Women’s Education Equity Act promoted, coordinated, and evaluated gender equity policies, evidencing discriminatory policies. The act funded and promoted programs to ensure a full-range of educational opportunities for women. !

BAE Alumni & Friends – 5

Jan Patterson is a water resources engineer with Earth Tech, a Raleigh transportation and environmental consulting firm. She completed her thesis while working full-time. Patterson says, “That was one of the more difficult periods in my career, balancing work and education. It was well worth the effort.” About her job, Patterson says, “Consulting is fast-paced and can be very demanding. I am out in the field for a couple of days then back to the office to pull together reports in order to meet deadlines.” She continues, “One thing I can say, I am never bored with my job because daily it proves challenging.” When Patterson is asked what unique qualities she thinks women bring to water resources engineering, she replies, “I think we tend to look at a project from a different perspective than our male counterparts, which brings balance.” When asked what experience she has gained, Patterson says, “I will admit consulting engineering is a good place to get experience juggling many hats at once. I scope and negotiate the projects, collect field data, write mitigation plans, prepare design plans and bid documents, and oversee construction of the projects. There are not many other careers that allow you to see a job from start to finish.” In addition to being an alumna, Susan Capps is a member of BAE’s advisory board. “I think it is a great idea to focus this issue of Alumni & Friends on women,” says Capps. continued on page 7

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Perspectives of BAE Alumnae

BAE’s Engineering Women... continued from page 5 /she needs.” She continues, “I love helping students find their particular engineering niche especially, in the wide open and developing field of biomedical engineering.” She believes with conviction that women make great engineers. Blanchard says, “Getting the word out to women about the vast variety of interesting careers within the engineer realm, then taking the time to talk with perspective students in a one-to-one situation is what it takes to get people interested.” Adds Blanchard, “I am proud of all the BAE students I have worked with.” Dr. Sarah Liehr is a faculty member researching animal waste management. Liehr has a quiet, focused personality and a temperament fitted for the research side of engineering. Liehr says, “Women try hard to gain acceptance and win respect from their peers because women have not received enough recognition for their work to date.” She continues, “Women should not shy away from women- Dr. Sarah Liehr checking a lagoon flow trap to-women networking or encouragement. I believe you can strike a balance when working with your own gender that will not exclude others.” Dr. Jean Spooner heads up the extension Water Quality Group (WQG). She is known for her “go-getter, spitfire” personality. A take-charge kind of person, she knows how to mobilize people and procure grant funds that keep the group active and vital. Spooner wears many hats, as she can be found in the field, behind the desk, at conferences, talking with municipalities, and staying informed of the WQ Group’s activities. Spooner is a networker and a doer, and not very forgettable. To almost all she comes in contact with, she makes a wonderful impression and it makes her a good role model for women. When asked how she feels about women in engineering practice, Spooner says, “Why not? We can do it! Through the years, I have had many female students and faculty employed under grant funds in the Water Quality Group. These women have all done a great job and have gotten lots of experience working with local, state, and federal government agencies, as well as contractors. When businesses and municipalities see the quality of work, business assurance, and level of ability women are capable of, it becomes obvious that gender is not relevant.” Laura Lombardo is a civil/environmental engineer and extension associate with the Water Quality Group. She and her female WQG colleagues, Dani Smith and Karen Hall, agree that women tend to go into the "helping and protecting" side of engineering and science, whether it’s focused on people, or in their case, the environment. "Improving the health of ecosystems and the life they support is what motivates me," says Lombardo. "It’s the reason I went into engineering as an undergraduate -- to make a positive contribution to the world, plus I liked math." Lombardo believes she would be more satisfied in continued on page 7

More Information NCSU Women’s Studies – NCSU Women’s Center – National Science Foundation Sites Science and Engineering Database – Scientists and Engineers Statistical Database – Organizations Society for Women Engineers – WITI – National Academy of Engineering – The National Academies – Association For Women in Science – Women in Engineering Orginization – index.html Institute on Women in Trades, Technology and Science – /html/iwitts.html

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her career choice as an engineer if she were more mechanically and technologically inclined, but feels that there are a lot of opportunities in the environmental field to add a human dimension to her work. Rhonda Sherman is an extension specialist working with the engineering aspects of vermicomposting systems for processing waste. Sherman was an early woman arrival at BAE and says, “I am enjoying seeing the increased female presence in the department and look forward to working with more women in the future.” Jodi Pace is an engineer and research associate working in the animal waste field. Pace says, “I have my Master’s but don’t wish to earn a PhD; not yet anyway. I just want to get out there in the field and practice the engineering that I have been trained for.” The state of women’s engineering within the BAE department finds us to be quite typical, following the general NSF-noted trends for women in engineering throughout the nation. However, the department sees its opportunities and the potential it has for educating more women engineers. Beginning this fall BAE will add two new women faculty members providing additional role models for female students in the department. They will teach in the bioprocessing concentration area. Our publications and materials are being updated to reflect women’s participation and concerns. BAE is focusing additional efforts in seeking new internship opportunities that can provide ideal mentoring situations for our students. Faculty are reviewing their courses and practices to be more gender sensitive and inclusive and we are adding to our on-line offerings to enhance flexible learning schedules. Over time, with vision and sensitivity towards women as well as other minorities, our educational efforts should spill out into the workplace. Today, diversity is good business in a expanding global economy. Businesses are looking to improve product designs to function for diverse user groups and engineering problems require solutions with universal worldwide application. Additionally, in striving for workplace diversity we may uncover another aspect of true freedom and understanding, reaching yet another cultural milestone in human history. Individuals are freer when they are able to work and make a living in their own right. !

Alumnae continued from page 6 She owns a biomedical consultancy in Indiana that supports clients conducting clinical research of orthopaedic devices. Capps works alone and her work ranges from research protocol development to statistical analysis and results interpretation. She also writes journal articles and technical papers, and creates presentations on biomedical devices. “I feel my engineering background has been most helpful in teaching me to take scientific/technical information and translate it into other forms for communication,” says Capps, “and it has also made me feel very comfortable working in male workgroups.” Capps chose biomedical engineering because she could help many people with one device, as opposed to a medical doctor who helps one patient at a time. Regarding career challenges, Capps says, “I have to be a good listener when writing technical reports so I can accurately convey what my clients wish to project. It’s difficult writing for others.” She continues, “Another challenge for me that is different from many of my peers is that I work by myself most of the time so I have had to learn how to bounce an idea or concept off myself and then have confidence in my decisions.” Capps feels the most important qualities women engineers should possess are determination, persistence and good listening skills. About her career choice, Capps says, “I am very happy with what I do. It is challenging and rewarding, so I have never thought of doing anything else.” !

BAE Alumni & Friends – 7


Saaid Tawfiq Abdel-Ghani .. BE/BME Brandon Thomas Barham ... BE Eban Zachary Bean .............. BE Adam Gerrit Belanger ........... BE/BME Jennifer Marie Bullock ........... BE Michael Reed Burchell II ....... PHD Meme Areleet Diaz ................ BE Justin Matthew Dunlap ........ BE Blake Richard Edwards ........ BE/BME Zachary Lee Fuller ................ BE Masego Turk Gaonnwe ......... BE/BME Kenneth George Hardin ....... BE/BME

View more graduation pictures at

Jacklyn Candice Harrell ........ BE/BME Joseph Lowry Helseth ........... BE/BME Bethany Crystal Hunt .......... BE Dale Nicholas Hyatt ............. BE Christopher Grey Isley .......... AET Jessica Mildred Lanford ........ BE/BME Kari Ann Lauria .................... BE Lauren Danielle Leaven ........ BE/BME Melissa Renee Lemke ............. BE/BME Diana Antang Liou ............... BE/BME Nathan Robert Lowder ......... AET Kevin Royal Monk ................. BE Kelly Anne O’Brian ............... BE Brian David Phillips .............. BE Chad Ashley Poole ................. BE

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Campus Box 7625 Raleigh, NC 27695-7625

8 – BAE Alumni & Friends

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Spring 2003 Graduates

Julie Ann Poore ...................... BE/BME Brian Todd Robbins .............. BE/BME Helen Paige Rollins ............... BE Christy Layne Sackfield ........ BE Lindsay Michele Sallach ....... BE/BME Ryan Lee Shook .................... AET Rebecca Lynn Slager ............. BE/BME Rupert Mathew Erric (SS) .... BE/BME Ryan Andrew Smith ............. MS Kent James Smith .................. BE/BME Stephanie Ann Southard ...... BE/BME David Heath Stallings .......... AET Kyle Richard Teeter ............... BE/BME Mosalagae Tena ..................... BE/BME Alyson O’Neda Worley ......... BE Mohamed Abdelmoneim Youssef .................................... PHD

Graduating students and alumni now have the opportunity to purchase a brick in the CALS walkway. To learn more see http:// html. Bricks cost $75 to $150.


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