USD Professors Receive WEPAN Betty Vetter Award for Research

A research team including University of San Diego professors Susan M. Lord and Michelle M. Camacho received the Betty Vetter Award for Research, recognizing notable achievement in research related to women in engineering.

Their project “The Effect of Climate and Pedagogy on Persistence: A Longitudinal Study of Women in Undergraduate Engineering Programs” was funded by a National Science Foundation Gender in Science and Engineering grant and received the award for exceptional research committed to understanding the intersectionality of race and gender.

Their quantitative findings show that women persist at the same rates as men, but that women who leave do so at different points in the curriculum, and leave for different destinations. They found differences by the intersection of race and gender and that institutional effects were large for some race-gender combinations. The team’s research using the Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD) has made excellent use of large-scale quantitative data to publish compelling quantitative findings.

With over 40 publications and presentations to disseminate their research, this research team has made significant contributions to understanding the issues related to women in engineering. Their paper "Race, Gender, and Measures of Success in Engineering Education" was recognized with ASEE's Wickenden Award for best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2011.

The award is named in memory of Betty M. Vetter, long time director of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, who served as the first treasurer of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN, Inc.) and was a founding member of the Board of Directors. The award was presented Friday, June 21 at the WEPAN National Conference in Atlanta, GA.

Dr. Lord is a Professor and Coordinator of the Electrical Engineering program at USD. She will be honored as a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) at its upcoming Annual Conference. Her co-authored paper “Trajectories of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering Students by race and Gender” was recognized as the best paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011.

Dr. Camacho is a Professor and Chair of the Sociology department at USD. Drs. Camacho and Lord recently published The Borderlands of Education: Latinas in Engineering Education, which was nominated for the National Women’s Studies Association’s Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize. She received the “2011 Innovation in Experiential Education Award,” for her uses active-learning teaching techniques to encourage students to generate, analyze and critique data.

The research team also included Matthew W. Ohland (Purdue University), Catherine E. Brawner (Research Triangle Educational Consultants), Richard A. Layton (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology), Russell A. Long (Purdue University) and the late Mara H. Wasburn (Purdue University).