Mechanical engineering's Thole wins Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award

Karen Thole, head of mechanical and nuclear engineering, was presented with the 2012 Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award at the annual Commission for Women luncheon on April 16 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.

Some of Thole's initiatives in the department include bringing an Engineers Without Borders chapter to Penn State and supporting the creation and implementation of an Engineering Ambassadors program, an outreach program that arms engineering students with the excellent communication skills needed to recruit K-12 students into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, particularly engineering.

"The overwhelming success of the [Engineering Ambassadors] program has prompted the National Science Foundation to invite Thole and her team to submit a funding proposal to develop training materials and host a conference to begin to ramp this program up nationally," wrote Don Lenze, College of Engineering major gifts officer, in his nomination letter. "Thus she continues to promote a culture of excellence through training and mentoring and empowering others to do the same."

Thole also was instrumental in supporting mentoring efforts through alumni groups in mechanical and nuclear engineering. The Penn State Mechanical Engineering Society (PSMES) Mechanical Engineering Mentoring Program began in 2008 and matches ME alumni with a student mentees.

Thole is also active with many other groups: she serves as the faculty adviser for the Penn State American Society of Mechanical Engineers student chapter, participates in the Women in Engineering Program Orientation, supports the Group Involving Graduate Students and Faculty Engineers: Mechanical and Nuclear (GIGAFEMNS), and hosts new faculty mentor luncheons.

Last year, Thole was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change for her work in recruitment and retention of girls and women in STEM fields.

The Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award, created in June 1994, recognizes a University employee for mentoring by advising, facilitating, encouraging and/or paving the way for others to recognize and realize their potential in both personal and professional endeavors. The family, friends and colleagues of Rosemary Schraer, a former associate provost of Penn State and former chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, established the award.

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Last Updated April 24, 2012