Engineering at Smith
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In 2004, Smith College made history when 19 women graduated as part of the first class of engineers ever from an all-women’s ABET-accredited engineering program.  The reasons for starting an engineering program at an all-women’s college are compelling.  As a creative endeavor at the intersection of design, science, and mathematics, engineering draws on nearly all aspects of the human experience, including our history, politics, economics, arts, and societal aspirations.  The work of engineers both exacerbates and offers solutions to some of our gravest societal problems, including climate change, disease, resource limitations, and conflict.


Despite its central importance in society, engineering stands virtually alone as a professional degree with a small and declining participation by women.  The Picker Engineering Program addressed this problem by utilizing the resources and expertise of a women’s college to create a positive learning environment for women to study engineering.  The program also supports women by creating a supportive learning community, developing a flexible curriculum, providing female role models, including societal contexts in problem solving and using pedagogies that increase engagement.


The Picker faculty has developed an engineering program that responds to the challenges facing engineering education.  Fundamental to the program is its setting in a liberal-arts environment in which students learn to contextualize engineering in the framework of bigger societal questions and to think in different ways as they collaborate on interdisciplinary teams.  The program is also learner-centered in both its curriculum and pedagogy.  Students work closely with faculty to design individualized plans of study that address both their learning goals and the technical requirements of the profession.  Finally, throughout the program faculty apply research-based pedagogy to help students develop deep and integrated understanding of engineering concepts and the ability to work creatively with ideas to generate new theories, products and knowledge.


News & Events

Engineering Forums

All forums are located in Ford Hall room 240 and are held from 12:00pm - 1:00pm, food will be served at these events, students are invited to bring their own beverage.

  • September 17, 2015- Jessica Lau, Engineer in Resource Adequacy Department, and Rachel Wilkins-Thurman, Senior Outage Coordinator in the Short Term Outage Coordination Department, will present about their work at ISO New England, an independent, non-profit Regional Transmission Organization, serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
  • October 1, 2015- John Andary, PE, with the Integral Group, an interactive global network of design professionals collaborating under a single deep green engineering umbrella.
  • October 8, 2015- Jason Bauer-Clapp will present Internship and Job Search for Engineers. Attend this conversation to learn about search resources, a basic framework for how to approach your search, and best practices for creating compelling, persuasive applications. Jason is the Associate Director of Smith's Lazarus Center for Career Development and liaison to the Picker Engineering Program.
  • Presentation of the Majors, October 22, 2015, Presented by Picker Engineering Program Director, Professor Susan Voss
  • November 5, 2015- Dr. Cara E. Stepp ’04 and Defne Abur ’14 will present on their research at the STEPP LAB for Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering at Boston University.
  • November 12, 2015- Peggi Clouston, Associate Professor in Environmental Conservation at UMass, Amherst will present her research on emerging technologies in timber engineering as it relates to the construction of a new state-of-the-art wood-frame structure at UMass- the Design Building. She will speak to the technological novelty of the structure and the sustainability of wood in construction.

Career Opportunities

Each month the Lazarus Center for Career Development publishes a Career Engineering Newsletter with opportunities for engineering students.

Engineering in the News

Professor Glenn Ellis and Team Through My Window gave the plenary talk at the Collaborative Knowledge Building Group’s fifth national congress in Trieste Italy, www.ckbg2015.disu.units.it/en/program.asp.(September 2015)


Professor Glenn Ellis was profiled in the September 2015 newsletter of the Imaginative Education Research Group (IERG). IERG newsletters are available at http://ierg.ca/how-we-can-help/newsletters/. (August 2015).


Smith College launched its Picker Engineering Program 15 years ago, promising to bring more women-who are educated in the liberal arts along with their technical training-into the male-dominated field. The Summer 2015 Smith Alumnae Quarterly features engineering alumnae who are delivering on that promise.


The influential National Science Foundation Faculty Career Development Program has awarded Caitlyn Butler, class of 2004, $500,000 to pursue her pioneering research on special "Algal-Sludge Granules," which cut electricity consumption in half, while also cleansing water.


Picker Engineering Faculty Member, Glenn Ellis, was named as a 2016 Semi-Finalist for the Robert Foster Cherry Award for great teaching. The Cherry Award program is designed to honor great teachers, to stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching, and to encourage departments and institutions to value their own great teachers. (April 2015)


Smith 2004 alum Cara Stepp received a CAREER award from NSF to enable enhanced communication through human-machine-interfaces. The goal of her research is to develop new technology that will enable severely paralyzed individuals to communicate in a manner that is as fast and reliable as human speech. (March 2015)


News from the Kahn Institute: Drones in Our Backyards and Communities. Professor Paul Voss addresses the implications of new FAA rules on unmanned aircraft and potential local impact. (February 2015)


Professor Sarah J. Moore received the 2015 Faculty Teaching Award, an honor that represents distinguished teaching and an ability to connect with students, both in and outside the classroom. (February 2015)



For more Engineering in the News please visit News & Events.