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Smith Appoints Founding Director to Shape First Engineering Program at a Women's College

A distinguished environmental engineer who heads the civil and environmental engineering department at the University of Connecticut has been selected to lead Smith College's new engineering program, the first such program at a women's college.

Domenico Grasso, an authority on the remediation of environmental contaminants, has been named the Rosemary Bradford Hewlett '40 Professor and Chair of the Picker Program in Engineering and Technology at Smith, a post he will assume full-time in January, 2000.

A graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Grasso holds a masters degree from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He is a registered professional engineer in the states of Connecticut and Texas, and has been a visiting scholar at the University of California Berkeley, a NATO Fellow, and an invited technical expert to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Vienna.

Grasso is a member of the science advisory board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He serves on the board of directors of the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors and Sea Change, a non-profit environmental advisory group. He is editor-in-chief of the journal "Environmental Engineering Science." In addition, he is the author of more than 100 technical papers and reports, including four chapters and two books. In 1998, he served on a World Bank-funded international team of scholars that established the first environmental engineering program in Argentina.

Grasso, a passionate advocate for teaching engineering in a liberal arts environment, is looking forward to what he terms "a unique opportunity to build a program and a curriculum from the ground up."

"Some schools have attempted to teach engineering this way," he explained, "but haven't fully capitalized on it. The market is in dire need, both of women engineers and engineers generally who are well-grounded
in their understanding of the human condition." He is committed to building a rigorous curriculum, based firmly in engineering science and engineering practice, out of which, he predicts, Smith students will be "heavily recruited" by top graduate schools and major industry employers.

"With his commitment to using science in the service of humanity, Domenico Grasso is an ideal person to lead us in developing not only a new kind of engineering education but, indeed, a new kind of engineer," Smith President Ruth Simmons said.

Grasso and his wife, Susan Hull Grasso, also an engineer, expect to move to Northampton shortly with their children, Benjamin, Jacob, Elspeth and Caitlín. He will fulfill his teaching and administrative commitments at the University of Connecticut through the fall term, serving at Smith on a consulting basis until the end of the year.

Smith's engineering program, established by the board of trustees in February with funding from longtime Smith supporter Harvey Picker, and from Rosemary Bradford Hewlett '40 and the William R. Hewlett Trust, is expected to produce its first graduates in 2004.

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's best liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 50 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the United States.

September 27, 1999


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