This month, the Commission for Women (CFW) is excited to highlight three outstanding members whose work was recently presented at the 2022 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Community Diversity (ConNECD) conference. Let’s learn a little more about how Dr. Anne Shutnik, Dr. Jamie Coble, and Jalonda Thompson (M.Ed. & MBA), are leading with distinction and making their mark on the field of engineering.
Dr. Anne Skutnik serves as Director for the Tickle College of Engineering’s (TCE) Office of Student Success. The office connects students with a multitude of resources that support success including available scholarships, engagement opportunities, and options for unique connections that can cultivate a sense of both motivation and belonging. Dr. Skutnik received her PhD in Educational Psychology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The focus of her research is precollege engineering education outreach as a complex human activity. Dr. Skutnik currently serves the CFW as a member of the Events Committee.
Dr. Jamie Coble earned all four of her degrees from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, most recently earning a PhD in Nuclear Engineering in 2010. She currently serves as Assistant Department Head of Undergraduate Studies and Service in The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, Associate Professor, and the Southern Company Faculty Fellow. Her research interests expand on past work in nuclear system monitoring and prognostics to incorporate system monitoring and remaining useful life estimates into risk assessment, operations and maintenance planning, and optimal control algorithms. Dr. Coble serves as chair of the CFW’s Equity Issues Committee.
Jalonda Thompson has more than 13 years of progressive experience in STEM research and higher education. Thompson earned a Master’s degree in higher education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2011, and a Master’s degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2020. She is the inaugural Director of the Women in Engineering Program at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Prior to her current role, Jalonda served as the Assistant Director of Engineering Diversity Programs in the Tickle College of Engineering. In her current role, Thompson advises senior leadership and oversees programming that contributes to women’s recruitment, retention, and graduation from the TCE. Thompson has received numerous recognitions and honors and currently serves as co-chair of the CFW’s Safety Advisory Committee.
Their presentation, “Creating Pathways for Success and Engagement for Women in Engineering,” highlighted TCE’s ongoing efforts to support women working and studying in the field of engineering, increase the number of women enrolled in TCE programs, increase the number of women represented in engineering faculty roles, and increase the number of women in the larger engineering industry. The presentation shared how the team utilized existing best practices to create and sustain innovative retention programs for undergraduate women, to assist graduate students in becoming wellrounded engineers through networking programs, and to support women faculty through continued professional development. The efforts reach far beyond the program and the university, engaging university constituents, K-12 administrators, teachers, counselors, and alumni.
When asked, “Why is the work proposed in the presentation so important,” Dr. Skutnik replied, “We all know that the STEM pathway isn’t always the most accessible or easy for women to enter onto or stay on without support. Research shows that without support structures, mentorship, etc., women won’t stay in STEM. What we’re doing within the Tickle College of Engineering to create programs and opportunities for women—from undergraduate students through faculty—is meant to provide that support structure, encouragement, and validation that STEM is for everyone. We’re creating new pathways to make sure there are opportunities for all women and women identifying members of our UTK community to pursue their passions and be successful.” Jalonda Thompson added, “When we think about diversity, it is everyone’s responsibility. The women represented in this presentation are administrators, faculty, and staff, all united towards advancing women in all levels of engineering.”
The CFW is so lucky to work with these amazing women as colleagues and contributing members who have a great impact on our organization! For more information on the UTK Commission for Women, please visit our website here.