TUSCALOOSA. Ala. — A University of Alabama engineering professor and a recent graduate received national recognition by the Society of Women Engineers.
Dr. Beth A. Todd, UA SWE faculty adviser, was awarded the Distinguished Engineering Educator Award, and Rachel Hughes, former UA SWE president, received the SWE Outstanding Collegiate Member Award at the recent WE13 Conference in Baltimore, Md.
The Distinguished Engineering Educator Award is presented each year to a woman who has made significant contributions to the field as an educator. Similarly, the Outstanding Collegiate Member Award honors a female engineering student who has served as an SWE member for at least two years and has made outstanding contribution to SWE, the engineering community and her campus.
Todd began teaching at the University in 1992 and serves as associate professor and undergraduate program coordinator in mechanical engineering.
She was named a SWE fellow in 2004 and co-chaired the 2003 SWE National Conference. In addition, Todd has been named national outstanding section faculty adviser for both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and SWE. In the past, she has served as the chair of the American Society of Engineering Education Southeast Section.
Todd’s research has focused on orthopedic biomechanics and design of devices for the disabled. More recently, she has transitioned to the study of engineering education.
Todd has been principal investigator of a dozen research projects funded by the Engineering Foundation, NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Halliburton Foundation. She has more than 50 refereed publications with one or more student co-authors.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University in August, Hughes, formerly Rachel Mitchell, soon began working as a validation engineer at Evonik Birmingham Laboratories.
In college, Hughes spent three semesters working as a Cooperative Education employee for SurModics Pharmaceuticals, now Evonik Birmingham Laboratories.
Hughes, a Tuscaloosa native, came to UA with a Presidential Scholarship, College of Engineering Leadership Scholarship and a UA Alumni Scholar Award. She later earned the Susan Miszkowicz Memorial Scholarship among several others. During her time as president of SWE during her senior year, Hughes successfully increased the chapter’s membership by 60 percent.
While Hughes was president, the UA SWE chapter received the gold level Outstanding Collegiate Section Award at the SWE Annual Conference in Houston, Texas, and it won the bid to host the SWE Region D Conference on campus in 2014.
Hughes was also active in the Society of Engineers in Medicine, serving as treasurer in 2011 and vice president in 2012. In addition, she served as an ambassador for the College of Engineering during the 2012-2013 academic years. She was also recognized for Outstanding Senior Award by the department of chemical and biological engineering in 2013.
In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 4,100 students and about 120 faculty. Students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz and Truman scholars.