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Jan. 5, 2009

Engineering Receives $1 Million for Technology

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Smith College’s pioneering Picker Engineering Program, the nation’s first and only accredited engineering program just for women, recently received $1 million for the purchase of state-of-the-art technology and equipment.

The gift, which arrived through the Branta Foundation, extends a long history of generosity by the program’s namesake. Eight years ago, Smith began the program with a $7 million gift from philanthropist Harvey Picker, who died last year, in honor of his late wife Jean Sovatkin Picker, a Smith alumna and former United Nations official.

“The timing of this gift could not be more significant or have a greater impact on the program,” said Linda Jones, director of the Picker Engineering Program and the Rosemary Bradford Hewlett ’40 Professor of Engineering. “As a result of the great generosity of Harvey Picker, we will now have the tools to make full use of our new facility, Ford Hall, when we move there next fall.”

The gift accelerates the estimated 10-year time span that would have been required to purchase the equipment through regular acquisitions, according to Jones.

Importantly, it improves the program’s ability to educate Smith students using technology that they will later be exposed to in industry and graduate school laboratories.

“Such use would have greatly pleased Harvey,” said Christine Beshar, director of the Branta Foundation and Smith alumna, Class of 1953.

Throughout the past four years, 118 students have graduated from Smith with engineering science degrees. About 40 percent have gone on to advanced study at leading institutions in the United States and abroad, and 60 percent have begun careers.

The Picker Engineering Program faculty is composed of 11 distinguished educators, including Jones, with specializations in mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering. Faculty members perform research in such areas as alternative energy sources, the movement of pollution through the atmosphere and the development of improved consumer-product warnings.

Among the honors bestowed upon Picker Engineering faculty is Glenn Ellis’ 2007 Professor of the Year Award from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)—the only national award for excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,800 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.



Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
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