Advancing equity in Penn State College of Engineering

Megan Lakatos
January 15, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Tomer Eldor was exposed to the subjects of chemistry, physics and calculus when she moved to the United States from Israel four years ago. At that very moment, she knew she had found her passion, and wanted to attend a university to study either chemical or biomedical engineering.

“Science provides me with a comfortable venue, full of intellectual stimulation, and the moment I set foot into my science classes, I was amazed and knew then and there that nothing would stop me from attempting to quench my great scientific thirst,” Eldor said.

She knew she would want, above all, to attend a university that would simultaneously slake her academic thirst and satisfy her determination to turn theory into meaningful practice. She applied to Penn State and was accepted into its Schreyer Honors College and the College of Engineering, but unfortunately, the cost of attending the University was a hindrance that could not be overcome without financial assistance.

Her situation is not unique. According to the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Admissions, cost and lack of scholarships are the main reasons for women not accepting their offer to study at Penn State College of Engineering.

Fortunately, Eldor was able to attend Penn State, thanks to the Bechtel Engineering Equity Initiative Scholarship in the College of Engineering at Penn State. Bechtel, a leading global engineering, procurement and construction company and long-time supporter of the College of Engineering, values diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and knows that a diverse work environment cannot be attained without having a diverse undergraduate population.

“It’s important to create and maintain a work culture and environment where each individual –  regardless of their distinguishing physical characteristics, such as race or gender, or their personal backgrounds – believes their thoughts and contributions are considered and valued, and integral to the organization. Such a workplace fosters collaboration and inclusion that enables us to leverage the talents and diversity of our people in order to surface innovative ideas,” Dan Williams, project director for Bechtel, said. “At Bechtel, our primary asset is our diverse global workforce. We deliver for our customers by smartly leveraging the intelligence and experiences of our workforce; it’s a business imperative to foster such an environment.”

Prior to beginning her journey at Penn State, Eldor attended the College of Engineering’s Women in Engineering Program Orientation (WEPO), designed to introduce first-year women to the Penn State College of Engineering and to the engineering career path.

“It was amazing because there were around 200 women – just all engineers. And going from almost no women in my science and math classes in high school to seeing all these women engineers in one place gave me confidence that I can do it and continue and become a good engineer,” Eldor said.

And now with her first semester under her belt, she is enjoying her time at Penn State, and is an active member in the Penn State Society of Women Engineers and Students Supporting Israel.

“I was afraid I couldn’t find friends or people like me, but I did, and it’s so much easier to find friends here than in high school,” Eldor said. “I like the community. Everybody is supporting everyone. It’s about academics, but it’s also about feeling welcome – doing well in school but also having fun and going to clubs and making friends.”

Penn State is designated as a “Key School” for Bechtel – one of five such institutions in the United States. “Penn State has earned this distinction because of the excellence of its engineering program, the broad array of engineering degrees offered that align with our business needs and its development of diverse talent,” Williams said. “We value our strong relationship with the College of Engineering because it facilitates multiple points of engagement between us, such as collaboration on capstone projects, summer internships and our participation in advisory boards. These engagements help us develop the next generation of engineers, with an emphasis on attracting Penn State’s diverse talent.”

Thanks to Bechtel’s generosity and testament to gender equity in engineering, Eldor will be able to join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of talented women engineers who are making a profound difference in the world.

“The College of Engineering is greatly appreciative of Bechtel’s continued generosity. Their commitment to partnering with Penn State to enable the education of the next generation of engineering workforce speaks volumes regarding the long-term commitment Bechtel is making toward advancing humankind around the globe,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “We are all too aware of the financial challenges that students and their families face today, yet we remain committed to helping the best and brightest reach their goal of a Penn State engineering degree, which will enable them to launch into impactful careers.”

“Through Bechtel’s generous scholarship, I am now able to focus primarily on my academic performance, to pursue my academic goals, and to invest myself fully in excelling in the pursuit of an engineering degree and in the possibility of continuing my education in graduate school,” Eldor said. “Bechtel’s kindness will not only help me to achieve my academic goals, but also to realize my personal ones as well.”

About Bechtel

Bechtel is one of the most respected global engineering, construction, and project management companies. The company, along with its customers, delivers landmark projects that foster long-term progress and economic growth. Since 1898, Bechtel has completed more than 25,000 projects across 160 countries on all seven continents. It operates through four global businesses: Infrastructure; Nuclear, Security & Environmental; Oil, Gas & Chemicals; and Mining & Metals. The company and its culture are built on more than a century of leadership and a relentless adherence to its values, the core of which are safety, quality, ethics, and integrity. For more information on Bechtel, go to www.bechtel.com

Last Updated January 15, 2019