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SMU Lyle School’s Delores Etter named to prestigious ‘100 Inspiring Women in STEM’ list

INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine cites Etter for work to increase number and diversity of young people who pursue STEM careers

biometrics, engineering, Delores Etter, SMU, Lyle

Delores Etter, founding director of the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education in SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, has been named to receive INSIGHT Into Diversity’s “100 Inspiring Women In STEM” award.

The award is presented by the magazine as a tribute to 100 women whose work and achievements not only encourage others in their individual STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, but also inspire a new generation of young women to consider STEM careers. Read the full article, ‘100 Inspiring Women in STEM Awards,’ in the September issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity.

“Our sincerest congratulations go to Dr. Etter and Southern Methodist University on receiving this prestigious national honor,” said INSIGHT Into Diversity Publisher Lenore Pearlstein. “She is truly an inspiration to all of us who are working so diligently to make a difference in the lives of all women and other underrepresented individuals.”

Etter’s career has included teaching at the US. Naval Academy, leading large projects at the Pentagon, and now teaching and mentoring students at SMU, where she was founding director of the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education from June 2008 to May 2015. In that position, she and her team have created websites and related activities and mounted successful summer programs such as Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) camps – many targeted specifically to girls – to teach youngsters that engineering is both fun and within their grasp.

Etter a mentor to students, promoting number and diversity of students pursuing STEM
Etter remains at SMU as Caruth Professor of Engineering Education, a distinguished fellow in the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, and professor of electrical engineering in the Lyle School.

“Prof. Etter is extremely deserving of this prestigious award,” said Lyle School dean Marc Christensen. “During her seven years leading the Caruth Institute, she continually focused on ways to increase the number and diversity of students who graduate from U.S. high schools with both the enthusiasm and knowledge to pursue careers in STEM education.

“Here at the Lyle School, we know that a diverse mix of engineers — men, women, and people representing a variety of different cultures – are best positioned to work together in teams to solve tough problems,” Christensen said. “You can see that at work in our current student population, many of whom caught the spark for learning math and science as youngsters through programs like those Dr. Etter and her team have organized.”

SMU-Lyle is celebrating its 10th year as an engineering school where women make up more than 30 percent of incoming undergraduate students. Nationally, enrollment of women in engineering schools averages just under 20 percent.

Etter part of SMU-Lyle’s success that women make up more than 30 percent of incoming undergraduate students
“The work Dr. Etter is passionate about is key to that success story,” Christensen said, “and we are very glad that she continues her relationship with the Caruth Institute as the Caruth Professor of Engineering Education.”

Etter’s research interests include digital signal processing and biometric signal processing, with an emphasis on identification using iris recognition. She also has written a number of textbooks on computer languages and software engineering.

She is an internationally recognized leader in science and technology and engineering education. As one of the few subcabinet appointees for both the Bush and Clinton administrations, she has served as the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition and as the deputy under secretary of defense for science and technology. In addition to her public service Etter has had a distinguished career as an academic and engineering researcher, having held the position of ONR Distinguished Chair in Science and Technology at the United States Naval Academy, and professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of New Mexico.

Etter recognized with nearly every major award given to engineering educators and researchers
Etter has been recognized with nearly every major award given to engineering educators and researchers. She was elected into the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, the highest recognition afforded an engineer in this country.

She has been awarded the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Public Service, confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a member of the National Science Board (which governs the National Science Foundation), appointed a member of the Defense Science Board, and served as principal U.S. representative to the NATO Research and Technology Board.

Etter was a recipient of the Federal WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) Lifetime Achievement Award, the IEEE Harriet B. Rigas Award, the Charles Hutchinson Memorial Teaching Award from the University of Colorado, the IEEE Education Society Achievement Award, the IEEE Millennium Medal, and the SPIE Defense Security Lifetime Achievement Award. She also has been elected a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education, the IEEE, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 2009 the Department of the Navy created annual technical awards and named them the Delores M. Etter Top Engineering and Scientist Awards. — Kimberly Cobb

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