UVA Engineering Leader Earns National Recognition for Advancing Women in Engineering

A leader at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science has earned a national award for her efforts to attract and support women in engineering.

Pamela Norris, the Frederick Tracy Morse Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and executive associate dean for research, will accept the Society of Women Engineers’ Distinguished Engineering Educator Award at a ceremony in Philadelphia in October.

During her 22-year career at UVA, Norris has been a champion for engaging women in engineering, and is a co-principal investigator for UVA’s National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award grant aimed at increasing the participation and advancement of women faculty members in science and engineering.

She is among those responsible for making UVA Engineering the top public university in the country for the percentage of women pursuing engineering degrees, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

She also is one of the most productive researchers and faculty members, by almost any measure, at UVA Engineering.

Since she became the first person in her family to attend college, she has founded two research laboratories, secured three patents (two more are pending) and drawn more than $25 million worth of research grants to UVA. She is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

“Pam embodies our vision for the Engineering School,” said UVA Engineering Dean Craig Benson. “She is an extraordinarily accomplished researcher who is helping our faculty focus their efforts on interdisciplinary research that can truly make a difference in the world. At the same time, she is an outstanding mentor and role model for faculty and students. Her leadership is helping transform our school and our profession.”

On Thursday, Sept. 22, Norris also will receive the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award from UVA’s Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center. The award, named for Elizabeth Zintl, an accomplished writer and journalist who served as chief of staff in UVA’s Office of the President, honors University women who exemplify the high degree of professionalism, creativity and commitment that characterized Zintl’s contributions to UVA.

Norris is most proud, however, of her support for undergraduate students, graduate students and fellow faculty members. She has established mentorship programs for newer faculty members, and consistently advises among the highest number of students of any research group at UVA Engineering.

“What I like to do is help people succeed beyond what they think they are capable of doing,” she said. “I like to help remove barriers and open up opportunities for them.”

For this reason, Norris is being honored by the Society of Women Engineers.

The annual initiative aims to recognize the successes of society members and individuals who enhance the engineering profession through contributions to industry, education and the community.

“The individuals acknowledged in this year’s awards program have made a significant impact on their community as well as the engineering and technology community as a whole,” said Jessica Rannow, Society for Women Engineers president. “These leaders are who make it possible to remain a catalyst for change as we work together to empower women in STEM and close the gender gap in engineering.”

For more information about SWE, visit www.swe.org.