Susannah Howe

Director of the Design Clinic and Senior Lecturer in Engineering, Junior Class Dean


Contact & Office Hours

Ford Hall 151



Ph.D., M.Eng., Cornell University

B.S.E., Princeton University;


Susannah Howe coordinates and teaches the capstone engineering design course. Since joining the Smith faculty in 2003, she has coached numerous student design teams across a wide range of engineering disciplines and collaborated with multiple sponsoring organizations from both industry and government. Her favorite part of the job is working with students during their senior year and being part of their transition into life after Smith. She stays in contact with many engineering alumnae and hosts many of them back on campus as guest speakers in the capstone course.

Howe’s current research focuses on innovations in engineering design education, particularly at the capstone level. She has been instrumental in connecting the engineering capstone community nationwide; she is integrally involved in the Capstone Design Conferences (co-chairing in 2010 and 2012) and is helping lead an initiative to develop an online repository for capstone practices and resources. She is also involved with efforts to foster design learning in middle and high school students and to support entrepreneurship at primarily undergraduate institutions. Her background is in civil engineering with a focus on structural materials; she holds a bachelor of science in engineering degree from Princeton, and master in engineering and doctoral degree from Cornell University.

Her Smith service both past and present spans multiple committees and advisory boards, including the Administrative Board, the Jandon Center for Community Collaboration, the Lewis Global Studies Center, the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning, the Committee on Educational Technology, the College Council on Community Policy, the Committee for Faculty Compensation and Development, the Design Thinking Initiative, the Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, and the Program for the Study of Women and Gender. Within the Picker Engineering Program, she advises the Society for Women Engineers student organization, and has served as the director of honors in engineering. She is also currently serving as the junior class dean at the college.

Outside of work, Howe enjoys spending time with her family (including husband Nick, a professor of computer science at Smith), traveling, reading, running on road and trail, tackling house projects, and playing baritone saxophone with the Bad News Jazz and Blues Orchestra. 

Selected Publications

Ford, J., Paretti, M., Kotys-Schwartz, D., Howe, S., and Ott, R. "New Engineers' Transfer of Communication Activities from School to Work," IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 64(2), June 2021, pp. 105-120. {2021 best paper winner}

Howe, S., Landeau, A., et al. "SmithVent: Design Documentation for a Rapidly-Manufacturable, Open-Source Ventilator for COVID-19 Patients," June 2020.

Estell, J., Howe, S., Jaeger-Helton, B., Sangelkar, S., Kinzli, K., and Rand, D. "Client Interaction Tools: Supporting Student Professionalism on Client-Based Capstone Design Projects," International Journal of Engineering Education, 35(6B), November 2019, pp.1953-1968.

Howe, S. and Goldberg, J. "Engineering Capstone Design Education: Current Practices, Emerging Trends, and Successful Strategies," Design Education Today: Technical Contexts, Programs and Best Practices, D. Schaefer et al (Eds.), Springer International Publishing, 2019, pp. 115-148, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-17134-6.

Howe, S. "Cultivating the Capstone Ecosystem to Educate the Engineer of 2020," International Journal of Engineering Education, 34(2B), March 2018, pp. 653-658.

Selected Honors and Awards

  • Kathleen Compton Sherrerd '54 and John J. F. Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, George Winter Graduate Fellowship for structural engineering, Cornell University
  • W. Mack Angus Prize for highest-ranked civil engineering student, Princeton University


The Smith Design Clinic

Every year Susannah Howe, senior lecturer in engineering, shepherds a group of Smith students through the Design Clinic, a capstone two-semester course in which students collaborate in teams on applied design projects sponsored by industry and government. Listen as Howe, the design clinic director, explains the ways in which students work and the course unfolds each year.

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