Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology professor to talk about women in engineering

Abbey Whittington, Entertainment Editor

Carlotta Berry, an engineering professor at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., will be discussing her journey in engineering in a lecture titled “Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now” at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

During her lecture, Berry will be walking students through how she decided to major in engineering and her experiences with the field as an undergraduate and graduate student. She will also explore why women in engineering should pursue advanced Science Technology Engineering and Math degrees.

“A big problem with recruiting and retaining women in engineering is the impostor syndrome and stereotype threat which is based in the implication that they cannot do as well as their male counterparts in this field or that they really don’t belong there,” Berry said. “I love to tell people that I am an engineer and professor and I look forward to the day that they are no longer surprised because this is the norm.”

Berry’s research will also be shown during her lecture, which will include robotics education, interface design, human-robot interaction and increasing underrepresented populations in STEM fields.

The lecture is being sponsored by the department of mathematics and computer science, the Jack and Margaret Redden grant, Women in Science and Mathematics, Minority Mentoring in Mathematics and Science and Sigma Ki, The Scientific Research Society.

Berry resides in Plainfield and received her doctorate degree in electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University. She serves as the director of the Multidisciplinary Minor in Robotics and the co-director of the Rose Building Undergraduate Diversity program at Rose-Hulman. She is also a judge of the “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics” competition.

Berry said she loved math and science when she was in high school and her counselor told her she should consider pursuing a career in engineering

“My best advice for students is that we have to get over the stigma that all engineers are smart. I always say that success happens when hard work, discipline and dedication meets your purpose and passion,” Berry said. “By perpetuating the myth that all engineers must be super smart and male, this classes out a whole subset of people who could potentially make great engineers because they feel that they don’t meet the qualifications.”

Alejandra Alvarado, a mathematics professor, said she first came into contact with Berry after finding an article from The New York Times about the engineering professor, which focused on her profession in engineering as an African-American woman and how Berry has been perceived by students.

Berry was originally supposed to give her speech on Feb. 24 in celebration of African-American Heritage Month, but the lecture was rescheduled because of the snow day.

After Alvarado read the article and saw how close Berry was to Eastern and that Berry was an undergraduate math major and a graduate in engineering, she was interested in inviting the Rose-Hulman professor to serve as a role model to mathematics and pre-engineering majors.

Alvarado said Berry would also serve as a great role model to women and minorities who are pursuing STEM degrees since their numbers in the degree are so low.

“There just are not that many women in engineering. If you look at our engineering or physics faculty page I can maybe only think of one female instructor,” Alvarado said.

After Berry’s lecture with students, there will be a free luncheon at noon. The deadline to reserve seats for lunch has been met, however, if students come to Berry’s talk and there are seats left they are welcome to join.

“I think the lecture will be good for all students to see somebody other than what a stereotypical engineering or science professor looks like,” Alvarado said.

Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]