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Overview

Women in Engineering at RIT is dedicated to expanding the representation of women engineers and preparing women for leadership roles within the engineering profession.

 

 

Women in Engineering at RIT is dedicated to expanding the representation of women engineers and preparing women for leadership roles within the engineering profession.

Hundreds of women engineering students participate in our engineering career-focused programs and events each year.

As a result of these programs, KGCOE Dean Harvey Palmer notes that the engagement of college students in these outreach activities has a significant unanticipated benefit.  He says, “In the College of Engineering we have seen a direct correlation between college student involvement with these outreach efforts and an increase in the retention of these women students.” 1

Dube, William. "Women in STEM - A Systematic Issue." Research at RIT Spring-Summer 2012: 10-14. Print. Pt. 2 of a series, Volume 5. 

RIT Community

A series of programs and activities throughout the academic year dedicated to enhancing the educational experiences of women engineering students while providing student networking and relationship building opportunities.

Future KGCOE Women Students

Programs and events to introduce the university and its strong engineering community of dedicated women students, faculty, and staff, as well as the rich campus life that RIT has to offer. 

K-12 Engineering Programs

Programs include theme-based experiences with hands-on activities to encourage, educate and inspire girls in grades 4-12 to learn about engineering as a career and how they can make a difference in society.  Attendance at these programs has reached over 2,500 students.  Current RIT engineering students volunteer to mentor, gain leadership experience, and role model engineering careers. 

 

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Mission & History

Women in Engineering at RIT is dedicated to expanding the representation of women engineers and preparing women for leadership roles within the engineering profession.

 
Mission Statement

Women in Engineering at RIT is dedicated to expanding the representation of women engineers and preparing women for leadership roles within the engineering profession.

History

KGCOE is the only engineering college in the nation named in honor of a woman. Kate Gleason demonstrated innovative, entrepreneurial, and technical abilities at a time when women could not even vote! Kate Gleason's legacy and inspiration, together with the college's strong commitment to foster gender equality in the engineering field led to the creation of a women in engineering program called WE@RIT. It was founded in 2003 by a group of dedicated faculty and staff. WE@RIT develops and hosts programs that support, educate and inspire young women both academically and socially. 

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About Kate Gleason

Kate's career began at age eleven when she started helping her father, William, in his machine shop after her older half-brother died from typhoid. By fourteen, Kate was the company bookkeeper and in 1884 she became the first woman to enroll in the Mechanical Arts program at Cornell University.

 
Kate Gleason was a business leader, inventor, and the first womAn member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Catherine Anselm Gleason was born in Rochester during 1865 and has been heralded as the first lady of gearing and the ideal business woman.

Kate's career began at age eleven when she started helping her father, William, in his machine shop after her older half-brother died from typhoid. By fourteen, Kate was the company bookkeeper and in 1884 she became the first woman to enroll in the Mechanical Arts program at Cornell University.

When Kate left for Cornell, her father hired someone to replace her in the business, but the firm began struggling financially. Her father couldn't afford to pay the salary of the man he had hired to replace Kate, and she was called home to help at Gleason Works.

By 1890, Kate was the Secretary-Treasurer and soon led sales and finance within the business. In 1893, the tool business dried up in the US and Kate decided to expand her sales region to include the European market. After a two month voyage, she arrived in Europe where she secured orders from England, Scotland, France, and Germany. This trip was among the first attempts by any American manufacturer to globalize their business.

Kate resigned from Gleason Works in 1913, and the next year was the first woman in New York to be named Receiver in Bankruptcy, serving as such for the Ingle Machine Company in East Rochester. Also in 1914, Kate was unanimously elected to membership in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as its first woman member. In 1917, Kate became the President of the First National Bank of East Rochester, another first for an American woman.

Years later, Kate left Rochester for business ventures in California and South Carolina, travelling extensively and eventually purchased an estate in France.

Kate Gleason serves as an inspirational role model for the engineering students studying within the RIT College named in her honor. The Kate Gleason College of Engineering (KGCOE) is committed to producing engineering graduates who provide innovation in product development, becoming leaders in the global engineering community.

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Advisory Board

The Executive Advisory Board provides consistent guidance to WE@RIT on strategic direction, programs, and partnerships.  They assist with our extensive collaborations with University Programs, College of Engineering Departments, Faculty and Industry partners.

The Executive Advisory Board provides consistent guidance to WE@RIT on strategic direction, programs, and partnerships. They assist with our extensive collaborations with University Programs, College of Engineering Departments, Faculty, and Industry partners. This valued method of operation has a positive impact on programs and student success.

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Staff

The Women in Engineering program staff includes: a full time Director, staff of part-time undergraduate women engineering students during the Academic Year, four full-time women engineering co-op students during the summer and a group of student volunteers throughout the year.

 

The Women in Engineering program staff includes: a full time Director, staff of part-time undergraduate women engineering students during the Academic Year, four full-time women engineering co-op students during the summer and an extensive group of student volunteers throughout the calendar year.

Jodi Carville
Women in Engineering Program Director
585-475-7028
GLE/2505
Emily Heitzhaus
1st Year Industrial and Systems Engineer
Britany Klimtzak
2nd Year Biomedical Engineer
Jennifer Leone
4th year Industrial & Systems Engineer
Jamie Lucarelli
1st Year Biomedical Engineer
Melissa Miller
3rd Year Biomedical Engineer
Emily Sanserverino
2nd Year Biomedical Engineer
Samantha Stein
3rd Year Mechanical Engineer
Valeria Villa
2nd Year Industrial and Systems Engineer
Kristin Zatwarnicki
2nd Year Mechanical Engineer
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Women Faculty

Kate Gleason knew there was nothing she couldn’t achieve, provided she had passion and the will to succeed.  Women engineers at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering share this philosophy.

Kate Gleason knew there was nothing she couldn’t achieve, provided she had passion and the will to succeed.  Women engineers at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering share this philosophy.  Inspired by our college’s namesake, they stretch conventional limits to reach their full potential.  And Kate isn’t their only inspiration.  The number of women faculty members within our college exceeds the national average, and women comprise 40% of the dean’s leadership staff.

Our woman engineering faculty are also engaged in research and activities related to recruitment, retention, and advancement of women students and faculty in STEM-related fields. They are recognized by national and international professional organizations for their dedication to their respective disciplines, for their research, and for their contributions to the education of the next generation of engineers.

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Awards

In recognition of a women in engineering program modeling and generating best practices for outreach, recruitment, retention, and development of girls and women in engineering.

Imagine RIT President Destler Electric Endurance Challenge

Third Place, Hot Wheelz Team AND Innovation Award (2013)

Imagine RIT President Destler’s E-dragster Race

First Place Hot Wheelz Team (2012)

Imagine RIT Time Warner Cable Sponsor Award

Hot Wheelz Team (2012)

Edwina Award for Gender Diversity

Margaret Bailey (2011), Harvey Palmer (2010)

  • Given by the Center for Women and Gender to honor staff and faculty that have made gender diversity at RIT a significant part of their work.
Henrietta Chamber of Commerce

Ernst J Auerbacher Outstanding Education Initiative Award (2009)

Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN)

Women in Engineering Program Award (2008)

  • In recognition of a women in engineering program modeling and generating best practices for outreach, recruitment, retention, and development of girls and women in engineering.
 Rochester Women’s Network (RWN)

“Vital Women, Vital Roles” Recognition Award (2008)

  • In honor of Kate Gleason
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Fast Facts

In 1884, Kate Gleason became first women engineering student in the United States.

1In 2008, 12% of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering, 3% of master’s degrees in science and engineering, and <1% of doctorate degrees in science and engineering were awarded to minority women. (NSF, 2011).

2Women make up 47% of the overall workforce, but are much less represented in particular science and engineering occupations (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011).

34% of chemists and material scientists are women;

17% of chemical engineers are women;

10% of civil engineers are women;

7% of electrical and electronics engineers are women;

20% of industrial engineers are women; and

7% of mechanical engineers are women.

3In 1914, Kate Gleason was unanimously elected to membership as the first woman member in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

4In 1917, Kate Gleason became President of the First National Bank of East Rochester and financed eight new factories.

5Kate Gleason is the only woman in the US to have a college of engineering named in her honor ~ RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

6In 1884, Kate Gleason became the first woman engineering student in the United States.

7The word engineer comes from a Latin word meaning ‘cleverness’.

8Hedy Lamarr was a famous movie actress of the 1930's. While starring in famous movies, Hedy Lamarr was also an engineer. Lamar held a technology patent which is the foundation for today’s advanced wireless networks.

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11Graduation rates of our undergraduate KGCOE women students are higher than overall graduation rates of both KGCOE and RIT.

12There is no one “type” of person who becomes an engineer. If you know kids who . . .

  • are creative
  • like collaborating with others
  • are curious and persistent
  • want to make a difference
  • like solving problems or improving processes

. . .  then you know some potential engineers.

Are you surprised that you didn’t see “excels at math and science” on this list?

14Marie Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes for Science.

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