February/March 2008

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News and Views



CDM launches Engineers Without Borders program

A villager benefits from the CDM/EBW drinking water project in Agou Avedje, Togo.

A villager benefits from the CDM/EBW drinking water project in Agou Avedje, Togo.

Cambridge, MA - Engineering and construction firm CDM has become a platinum sponsor of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA). This nonprofit organization partners with developing communities to help meet pressing needs for clean water, sanitation and other life-sustaining systems.

CDM employees can participate in offshore community service projects through a company grant program for volunteer service. So far thirty CDM people have helped communities in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico and Togo, West Africa. Many of the projects are quite simple, like digging ditches, laying pipes, or even suggesting changes in behavior, but they can have a huge impact on quality of life.

For example, in the Honduras village of El Rosario, which had suffered from a severe water shortage, EWB volunteers laid perforated pipes in a bed of sand and gravel beneath and beside an existing spring box. The new pipes captured water leaking from the spring box and sent it to the existing water system, doubling the villagers' water supply.

John L. Roberts is CDM's exec VP.

John L. Roberts is CDM's exec VP.

"CDM's support of EWB is one more way in which we can demonstrate our commitment to leading by example and making the world a better place," says CDM exec VP John L. Roberts, PE, BCEE. "In addition, our program serves as a powerful recruiting tool, strengthens employee engagement and retention and provides excellent opportunities for our volunteers to build their skills in teamwork, project management and leadership."

Since EWB was founded in 2000, its projects have improved the lives of more than 600,000 people in forty-one countries. For more information check out

Techies enter Women's Hall of Fame

Judith L. Pipher of U Rochester.

Judith L. Pipher of U Rochester.

Eleanor K. Baum of Cooper Union.

Eleanor K. Baum of Cooper Union.

Seneca Falls, NY - Last October, nine women were inducted into the national Women's Hall of Fame at an event sponsored by ITT Corp. Two of them were accomplished techies: Judith L. Pipher, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) and Eleanor K. Baum, dean of engineering at Cooper Union (New York, NY).

"We inductees help to mentor younger women who will pursue their dreams, and we applaud the quiet efforts of the many who contribute to the fabric of our lives," says Pipher. "Our message to these many women is to light the fire within and keep it burning."

Baum adds that "The purpose of science and engineering should be to improve the condition of society, to make life better for people. This is a message that is especially appealing to women.

"We need more women and minorities to think of careers in science and technology. The greater the diversity of groups trying to solve difficult societal problems, the greater the creativity of proposed solutions will be," she concludes.

Steven R. Loranger, CEO of ITT, notes that his company "is proud of our association with the mission of the Women's Hall of Fame. At ITT we have a vision of advancing human progress, and this year's honorees are true role models in doing just that."

American Nuclear Society honors NRC's Luis Reyes

Luis Reyes, at left, received his award from Donald C. Hintz, ANS president.

Luis Reyes, at left, received his award from Donald C. Hintz, ANS president.

Washington, DC - Last November Luis A. Reyes, executive director of operations at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was honored with an American Nuclear Society presidential citation. The citation acknowledges Reyes' twenty-nine years of outstanding work at the NRC and his commitment to improving U.S. nuclear energy science and technology policies.

Reyes manages the NRC's day-to-day operations, overseeing 3,500 employees and an annual budget of more than $800 million. Under his tenure, the NRC has been recognized for its commitment to diversity.

Reyes joined the NRC in 1978 as a reactor inspector in the Region III office. Before that he worked for the Argonne National Lab's Experimental Breeder Reactor II facility at the Idaho Engineering Lab. Reyes has a BSEE and an MS in nuclear engineering from the University of Puerto Rico. He is a licensed PE.

Goddard's carbon nanotube technology wins award

Innovator Jeannette Benavides demos the new nanotube manufacturing technology.

Innovator Jeannette Benavides demos the new nanotube manufacturing technology.

Greenbelt, MD - A method for manufacturing high-quality carbon nanotubes (CNTs) developed at Goddard Space Flight Center was a technology category winner in the third annual Nanotech Briefs Nano 50 awards. Retired Goddard innovator Jeannette Benavides, who presented the technology at the National Nano Engineering Conference (NNEC 2007), accepted the award.

Until recently, CNT use has been limited because of complex, dangerous and expensive production methods. Benavides' method is simpler, safer and much less expensive.

The key innovation is the ability to produce bundles of CNTs without using a metal catalyst. That means there are no metal particles to be removed from the final product, yielding a significantly higher quality and purity product at a much lower cost.

"I'm very excited to see that the licensing out of my technology is making CNTs more readily available, particularly for academic and other research programs," says Benavides. "The fact that researchers now have access to lower-cost CNTs bodes well for the future of nanotechnology."

NASA's Jody Singer gets presidential honor

NASA's award-winning Jody Singer.

NASA's award-winning Jody Singer.

Huntsville, AL - Jody Singer has been recognized for her outstanding achievements at NASA with a presidential rank award. This is one of the highest honors a career federal employee can receive.

Singer is deputy manager of the shuttle propulsion office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. She was appointed to that job last October, after serving as manager of the reusable solid rocket booster project office at the Marshall Center. She joined NASA in 1985 as an engineer in the professional intern program and has been associated with shuttle projects ever since.

She has received many awards during her NASA career, including the space flight awareness leadership award and NASA's outstanding leadership medal and exceptional service medal. She has participated in two NASA fellowships, at the Simmons College Graduate School of Management (Boston, MA) and at Pennsylvania State University. Her 1983 BSIE is from the University of Alabama.

First Hispanic woman astronaut leads kids to tech studies

After making her presentation, astronaut Ochoa opens the gathering to questions.

After making her presentation, astronaut Ochoa opens the gathering to questions.

Pasadena, CA - NASA astronaut Dr Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to fly in space, visited the Ellen Ochoa Learning Center (Cudahy, CA) last fall to promote science and math studies. Ochoa described her four space flights as examples of where a career in science, technology, engineering or math can lead.

Dr Ochoa has a 1980 BS in physics from San Diego State University (San Diego, CA) and a 1981 MS and 1985 PhD in EE from Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA). As a doctoral student at Stanford, and later as a researcher at Sandia National Labs and the NASA Ames Research Center, Ochoa investigated optical systems for information processing. She's listed as a co-inventor on patents for an optical inspection system and an optical object recognition method.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Ochoa became an astronaut in July 1991. She's spent a total of 978 hours beyond the Earth's atmosphere.

New E-Week council advances diversity agenda

Washington, DC - In October 2007, a coalition of businesses, professional societies and academic and advocacy organizations met to establish the Engineers Week (E-Week) Coalition diversity council. Founding partners of the council include the Chinese Institute of Engineers-USA, AAAS, American Association of People with Disabilities, AISES, MentorNet, NOGLSTP, NSBE, SHPE, SWE and the National GEM Consortium. Ronald Glover, IBM VP for global workforce diversity, convened the meeting.

Betty Shanahan, exec director of SWE, provided an update on her organization's efforts. All the council's founding partners, along with many engineering firms and societies, have ongoing outreach policies and programs aimed at increasing diversity. The new diversity council is the engineering profession's first attempt to unite individual efforts to develop a comprehensive national agenda.

Council founders point out that fewer than 12 percent of BS engineering grads today are underrepresented minorities. Some 650,000 minority students graduate from high school each year, but only about 26,000 have taken the necessary math and science courses to be fully qualified for admission to engineering study. Fewer than 15,000 actually enroll.

Engineering organizations interested in collaborating on diversity for the success of the profession and of local communities can e-mail E-Week Foundation exec director Leslie Collins at Be sure to include the name of the organization and contact information for a representative.

Microsoft gives NSBE developer software

NSBE's Carl Mack, right, thanks Microsoft's Bill Gates for the software donation.

NSBE's Carl Mack, right, thanks Microsoft's Bill Gates for the software donation.

Redmond, WA - During a keynote address at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Region VI fall regional conference, Microsoft chair Bill Gates announced that the company will donate developer software to all NSBE college and university chapters in the U.S. The software grant includes a three-year membership for each chapter in the Microsoft developer network academic alliance.

With the memberships, faculty and student NSBE chapter members will have access to more than 100 Microsoft software products, including development and design tools, client and server operating system platforms and platform servers.

"Microsoft and NSBE have many common goals, including a passion to attract more African American students to enter science, technology, engineering and math fields," says Carl Mack, executive director of NSBE.

Gates spoke about the opportunities for black students entering U.S. engineering careers and the importance of diversity in the technology field. The grant, he says, is part of Microsoft's overall efforts to provide minorities with the tools necessary to be IT leaders of tomorrow.

Microsoft was recently named NSBE's most preferred employer. NSBE members praised the company for career advancement opportunities, job security, work/life balance, interesting work and availability of internships.

In addition to NSBE, Microsoft works with the National Urban League, SHPE, SWE, the Boys and Girls Clubs and the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

NSBE has more than 26,000 members and is one of the largest student-managed organizations in the world. It has more than 270 chapters on college and university campuses and more than seventy-five alumni extension chapters and interest groups in the U.S., Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean.

Motorola helps JETS develop science education initiative
for women

Alexandria, VA - The Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) has received a $50,000 innovation generation grant from the Motorola Foundation. The money will help support a female-focused pre-college engineering initiative. The program gives teachers packets of information they can use to promote engineering and technology studies, and to encourage participation in programs that show how engineers make a difference in
daily life.

JETS worked with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project (EWEP), and Techbridge, with each group providing material. The packets will be given out to schools in the National Coalition of Girls' Schools (NGCS).

NGCS represents 114 all-girl schools across the U.S. The education packets include an "Engineers Can Do Anything" DVD from the Engineering Education Services Center, a copy of the JETS career resource publication, and information about EWEP's 'girls only' website,, and JETS activities.

DOL presents diversity awards for 2007

William H. Swanson, Raytheon Co chair and CEO, receives the company's EVE award from Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor, while  government officials and a Raytheon officer look on.

William H. Swanson, Raytheon Co chair and CEO, receives the company's EVE award from Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor, while government officials and a Raytheon officer look on.

Washington, DC - Every year the Department of Labor (DOL) honors federal contractors for their diversity efforts. Last year Raytheon was given the top opportunity award, which honors a federal contractor for comprehensive workforce strategies that guarantee equal employment opportunity.

The exemplary voluntary efforts (EVE) award honors federal contractors whose programs or activities show outstanding and innovative efforts to increase employment opportunities for minorities, women, people with disabilities and veterans. EVE awards for 2007 went to Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG, Newark, NJ) and Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL).

The 2007 exemplary public interest contribution (EPIC) award went to Sensory Access (Sunnyvale, CA). This award typically recognizes organizations, many aligned with federal contractors, that help disadvantaged people find jobs. Sensory Access helps people who are blind or visually impaired get or retain competitive employment by providing access technology assessment, computer training, job placement and accommodation services.


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