Susannah Howe

Director of the Design Clinic and Senior Lecturer in Engineering

Susannah Howe

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 and the Program for the Study of Women and Gender. She advises the Society for Women Engineers student organization, serves as the director of honors in engineering, and assists the Conway Center staff to coordinate entrepreneurial activities at Smith and regionally. She is also currently serving as the sophomore class dean.

Howe and her husband, Nick, a professor of computer science at Smith, have two teenagers: son Ben and daughter Rowan. The kids participate in many sports and artistic activities, and the family enjoys traveling (when possible!) and tackling house projects. Howe runs regularly on both road and trail with their family dog Indy, a black retriever mix. She also makes time for musical endeavors, including playing a bright red baritone saxophone with the Bad News Jazz and Blues Orchestra.

Selected Publications

Howe, S., Rosenbauer, L., and Poulos, S. "The 2015 Capstone Design Survey: Initial Results," Proceedings of the 2016 Capstone Design Conference, June 2016.

Howe, S., Poulos, S., and Stanfill, R., "CDHub 2.0: Laying the Foundation for an Online Repository for Capstone Design," Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Conference, June 2015.

Howe, S. "Industry Immersion: The Impacts of a Sabbatical Deep-Dive," Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Conference, June 2015.

Howe, S., Goldberg, J., Palo, S., and Rogers, P. "Guest Editorial: The 2012 Capstone Design Conference,"International Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 30, No. 1, January 2014, pp. 1-5.

Howe, S.  "Where Are We Now?  Statistics on Capstone Courses Nationwide," Advances in Engineering Education, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2010.

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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