Mass High Tech has named Assistant Dean for Outreach & Diversity Gretchen Fougere one of 20 “2013 Women to Watch.” The award recognizes Fougere’s leadership in making a significant impact in inspiring local and national K-12 students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, particularly through the College of Engineering Technology Innovation Scholars Program.
“I am honored to be included in this group and thrilled that Dean Lutchen and the College of Engineering created my role to develop the pipeline of future innovators,” said Fougere. “The College’s strategic goal of creating Societal Engineers for today and tomorrow aligns with my personal and professional goals, and produces the skills and workforce the country needs. We are laser-focused on the T and E in STEM, and creating sustained partnerships with high tech employers and K-12 schools.”
As director of the Technology Innovation Scholars Program (TISP), Fougere has in just two years trained 86 College of Engineering undergraduates to share their excitement about engineering with more than 5,000 elementary, middle and high school students across the country through interactive presentations, design challenges, and robotics competition mentoring. Known as Inspiration Ambassadors, these enterprising undergraduates have inspired many students to consider becoming engineers at a time when demand for the engineer’s skillset is strong and growing.
Highlighting how engineers positively impact society through innovations in clean energy, healthcare and other domains, the program attracts and reaches students who “look like the USA”—about 50 percent women and 30 percent underrepresented minorities—broadening the interest and participation of these groups.
“Gretchen is creating a foundation and platform for one of the most unique, scalable and sustainable STEM programs in the state and, eventually, the nation,” said Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen in his nominating letter.
Fougere’s efforts at BU to help create future generations of Societal Engineers through TISP and other outreach programs draw on her past successes as an engineer and educator.
As an engineer, Fougere managed teams and developed products in aerospace, energy storage, nanotechnology and other high technology industries. A graduate of the doctoral program in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University, she served as a design and structural engineer at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Engines, a research assistant at Argonne National Laboratory, and engineering researcher and manager at Motorola and Duracell (Gillette).
As an educator, Fougere taught science and engineering in elementary and middle school classes as well as in afterschool programs for girls and underrepresented minorities, and delivered STEM outreach programs at public schools and other forums. She served as a senior leader of the Engineering is Elementary curriculum project at the Museum of Science, managing partnerships with participating educational organizations and providing training and resources to elementary school educators.
Mass High Tech, a sister publication of Boston Business Journal, specializes in covering emerging technologies in the region and the people and companies behind them. The 20 Women to Watch were selected from a pool of more than 125 nominations and have been invited to speak at an awards breakfast in May.