ECE Alumna Recognized as Leader in STEM Education by IEEE
In January 2016, Dr. Laura Bottomley will be recognized for the value of this work by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.
Dr. Laura Bottomley, a member of the ECE Alumni Hall of Fame and NCSU faculty, has devoted her career to strengthening and broadening student interest in STEM education, and in January 2016, she will be recognized for the value of this work by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.
Each year, following a rigorous evaluation procedure, the IEEE Fellow Committee recommends a select group of recipients for elevation to IEEE Fellow. Less than 0.1% of voting members are selected annually for this distinction, and Dr. Bottomley was one.
“I am so very pleased to be named an IEEE Fellow,” said Dr. Bottomley. “To me it is reflective of the value that IEEE places on ensuring a diverse and well-educated future STEM workforce.”
Currently, Dr. Bottomley serves as the Director of Women in Engineering and The Engineering Placefor K-20 Outreach and a Associate Teaching Professor in the Colleges of Engineering and Education at NC State University.
Reflecting on her career, Dr. Bottomley said, “In many ways, my path chose me. Through some personal experiences, I became involved in advocating for increasing the representation of women in engineering. When I started going to high schools to talk to girls, I realized that they had already made decisions that would lead them away from engineering. My journey led to elementary schools, where I found that around fourth grade was where girls were deciding whether they liked and/or were good at math and science.”
These observations led her to start the outreach programs that later became known as The Engineering Place. More than 15 years later, The Engineering Place is active at both the state and national levels in advocating for STEM education, particularly on how engineering in K-12 can be a way to teach authentically and in a way that engages all kinds of minds.
Dr. Bottomley acknowledges that barriers for underrepresented populations in STEM fields present an ongoing challenge. “Society still imposes ideas that girls aren’t interested in science or good at math. Kids that do not learn well sitting still at a desk are frequently categorized as not ‘smart’ enough to study advanced subjects,” commented Dr. Bottomley. “A recent trip to a very popular store in NYC that sells dolls led to the discovery that you can buy accessories for those dolls to be teachers or hairdressers, but not engage in STEM-related careers.”
Dr. Bottomley was selected for a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics, Science and Engineering Mentoring by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2009. She was also inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women in 2008 for her contributions to eliminating racism and empowering women and was selected as the 2011 Woman of the Year by the RTP chapter of Women in Transportation. In 2013 she was named one of 125 Transformational Women by NC State University.
Bottomley received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from NC State in 1992.