The painful realities of the Covid-19 pandemic have prompted many of us to ask what we, as individuals, communities, scholars, and societies, would like to preserve and transform in the months and years to come, knowing that these events will have lasting impacts on so many dimensions of our lives. A timely edited collection — Women in Mechanical Engineering — grew out of this moment to gather new visions, transformational work, and address pressing issues in the areas of energy and the environment.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) faculty — Margaret Bailey, Ph.D., P.E., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Laura Shackelford, Ph.D., Professor of English— bring together contributions from women engineers who are at the forefront of these changes and confront them daily in their research, teaching, and professional practices, while also navigating engineering domains that are historically gendered to the disadvantage of women. Reading about the new directions, emerging research, and inspiring career trajectories of these women, one gets a glimpse into some of the ways in which they are transforming areas of energy and the environment in Mechanical Engineering today.
The volume showcases the important technical scholarship and contributions of women currently working in areas of mechanical engineering. It also contextualizes the present field of women and their technical scholarship in relation to three inspiring and influential predecessors – Kate Gleason, Edith Clark and Maria Telkes—in an introductory historical chapter by the Women in Engineering series editor, Jill Tietjen, P.E. (Society of Women Engineers Fellow and Past-President) and Margaret Bailey, volume co-editor who served as the inaugural Kate Gleason Endowed Chair at RIT from 2003 - 2009.
Exploring scholarly research, professional trajectories, disciplinary shifts, proven methods, personal insights and attitudes, or a combination of these, the book's chapters tell an important story about areas such as renewable energy, batteries and energy storage, power generation and distribution, sustainability, engineering and public policy, combustion and emissions, and engineering education, as seen from the perspective of remarkable contemporary women engineers from within academe, industry, and government. The book is divided into three sections, to reflect contributors’ primary emphasis on New Perspectives, Research/Technical advances, or Career Journeys, though most chapters artfully combine these threads to some degree as they tell their story.
The chapters are written in a narrative style in order to help readers to reflect on how the author’s work in engineering has impacted her life and, in turn, how being a woman in engineering has impacted her work. Authors adopted a variety of approaches, stylistically, in telling their stories.
The editorial vision and impetus for this collection grew out of just such experiences of seeking out and finding role models and learning from other Mechanical Engineers who had accomplished great things and actively worked to improve women’s opportunities and visibility in these fields.
Chapter authors inspire and inform readers with their first-hand accounts of leading research and field-change in mechanical engineering in the dynamic areas of energy and the environment. As engaging narratives, individual chapters provide models for people at all stages of their education, career, and life, helping readers to learn from their critical decisions, their hopes and dreams, and their strategies of resilience in the face of challenges.
Reading the narratives gathered together in Women in Mechanical Engineering: Energy and Environment will provide a sense of what it is like working in these fields and offer a rare glimpse into these contemporary women engineers’ inspiring accomplishments, as they provide their first-person perspectives and, often, nonlinear and bumpy journeys. Their stories are moving. As a collection that presents contemporary, real-world models and diverse methods of working in Mechanical Engineering in these pivotal areas of energy and environment, this volume aims to be literally moving, as well, by showcasing models or methods that might revitalize other women engineers’ and readers’ approach to their own professional development, resilience, empowerment, self-advocacy, and purpose.
Margaret Bailey, Ph.D., P.E., Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) teaches courses and conducts research related to Thermodynamics, engineering and public policy, engineering education, and gender in engineering and science.
Laura Shackelford, Ph.D., Professor in the English Department, of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). She is founding director of the Center for Engaged Storycraft at the RIT.