Thole named Society of Women Engineers' Distinguished Engineering Educator

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Karen Thole, head of the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, has been named the Society of Women Engineers' (SWE) 2014 Distinguished Engineering Educator.

The award is presented to a woman who, as a full-time or emeritus engineering educator, has made significant contributions to the engineering profession.

Thole noted, "I am honored to receive SWE’s recognition. It is my privilege to have the opportunity to advise and learn from such talented Penn State students each and every day."

She will receive her award during SWE’s annual conference in Los Angeles in October.

Along with her colleagues in the College of Engineering, Thole has supported recruitment and retention of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields by helping to establish the Engineering Ambassadors program, which empowers female students majoring in engineering disciplines with advanced communication skills to recruit middle school and high school girls into engineering.

She was recognized in 2011 by the White House as a Champion of Change for her work in helping to recruit and retain women in engineering.

In 2012, Thole received the Penn State Commission for Women’s Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award.

Prior to joining Penn State in 2006, she held faculty positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Virginia Tech.

Thole received her bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Established in 1950, SWE empowers women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expands the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life and demonstrates the value of diversity.

Last Updated August 29, 2014