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UMBC Professor Setting Example For The Next Generation

Dr. Anne Spence is a professor of the practice of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is very involved in the recruitment, training and retention of students in her field. She is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a professional society with about 140,000 members.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Anne Spence)

Dr. Spence has a B.S., aerospace engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology, an M.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas/Arlington, and a  Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has taught in her field for over 25 years and, prior to that, she worked in private industry.

What inspired you to enter your field?

"I chose aerospace engineering because I love things that fly. Even as a young girl, I was building and launching model rockets in a nearby field and helping my father to pre-flight our small airplane. As an undergraduate, I was the only woman in my class. There were a number of women who started engineering with me but dropped out. I wondered if a female professor might have encouraged them to stay. For that reason, I decided to serve as a role model for young women."

How does your educational background relate to your current role?

"My role requires a Ph.D. in engineering, and here at UMBC, we are training almost 300 teachers each year to teach engineering in elementary, middle and high school. We believe that exposing children early to engineering will encourage them to stay interested. We also work to retain women and minorities in engineering."

What does it take to be successful in what you do?

"I need to be able to read the current research in engineering education, to identify research questions that need to be answered, and propose methods to answer those questions. Teamwork skills are also extremely important as is the ability to problem solve."

What is some advice you can offer others interested in your field?

"Explore resources to encourage interest in engineering/STEM:

Young children: Junior FIRST LEGO League | Engineering is Elementary

Middle school:  Gateway to Technology | Girls Who Code.

High school: Pathway to Engineering | ASME Inspire Program

Have undergraduates connect to peers and faculty who can serve as mentors; obtain hands-on industry or research experience through internships; and don't listen to those who tell you that you cannot succeed. If I had listened, I would not have the exciting career I have today."

Susan Brown originally spent many years in banking/finance before confronting her addictions. She has now been in recovery for 20 years.
Primary interests include metaphysics and energy healing in which she has several certifications. She has written for since 2009 and also writes for Om Times. Sue lives in Baltimore.

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