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10-09-2003

Chemical Engineering Professor Ruth E. Baltus Honored With Society Of Women Engineers 2003 Distinguished Engineering Educator Award

Ruth E. Baltus, professor of chemical Eengineering at Clarkson University, is being recognized for her excellence in teaching and contributions to the engineering profession at the Society’s national conference.

[A photograph for newspaper use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/baltus.jpg.]

Clarkson University Professor of Chemical Engineering Ruth E. Baltus of Potsdam is the recipient of the 2003 Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Distinguished Engineering Educator Award. baltus

The SWE Distinguished Engineering Educator Award will be formally presented to Baltus on Friday, October 10, at an achievement awards banquet held during the SWE’s National Conference in Birmingham, Ala.

Baltus receives the award in recognition of excellence in teaching and dedication to her students, leadership of undergraduate students through the SWE student section, mentorship of strong graduate engineers, and contributions to membrane science and engineering research.

“For young women to succeed and thrive in engineering programs, the incredible influence of educators cannot be overstated,” said SWE president Alma Martinez Fallon. “Dr. Baltus serves not only as a valued educator in engineering but is also a mentor and advocate for aspiring women engineers.”           

Since joining the Department of Chemical Engineering faculty at Clarkson in 1983, Baltus has demonstrated a strong dedication to teaching and a talent for inspiring and motivating students, especially young women. Her teaching repertoire is unusually broad, encompassing most of the major required courses in Chemical Engineering, plus a number of courses taken by students outside of her department. Her teaching excellence is evidenced by the consistent, overwhelmingly positive student evaluations, and the success of her students in their own careers. Past students credit her with their ability to learn and their dedication to learning throughout their careers.    

“As an educator, I believe one of my most important functions is to help students develop problem-solving skills,” Baltus explained.  “While the technical content of the courses that I teach is certainly important, none of that will matter unless the students can apply that knowledge to new and increasingly complex problems.”

Baltus received the Student Life Award from Clarkson University in 1999 in recognition of her superior efforts as a faculty advisor. She served for more than a decade as the advisor for the SWE Clarkson University Student Section. During that time, the section was honored three times as the Best Student Section in Region F, which is comprised of 26 schools in the Northeast U.S. The Clarkson SWE section also earned an award for outstanding activities.

“Women bring a unique sensibility and set of interpersonal skills and talents to the engineering profession and the importance of these skills is being increasingly recognized by industry and academia,” said Baltus. “But girls and young women need to feel there is place for them in engineering.”

“Role models are very important—but they don’t necessarily always need to be women,” added Baltus. “Students need to receive messages that they ‘fit in’ to whatever major or profession they have selected and these need to come from women as well as men. They come from the atmosphere in the classroom as well as individual interactions with faculty. While I send the message that it is okay for a woman to be an engineer simply because of my gender, I would hope that my male colleagues are also sending the same message via other means to the female students in their classrooms.”

Baltus is a member of SWE, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, the North American Membrane Society, the American Society of Engineering Education and the Association for Women in Science. She received her doctorate in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1982.

Her scholarly work has involved both theoretical and experimental studies of membrane separations. Recently, she has initiated research activity focusing on room temperature ionic liquids, versatile materials that may provide an environmentally friendly alternative for many traditional solvents presently used in many chemical processes. She has organized and chaired numerous research sessions at national professional society meetings and has reviewed manuscripts for many publications and proposals for different funding organizations, including the National Science Foundation.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), founded in 1950, is a non-profit educational and service organization dedicated to the advancement of women in engineering and technology. SWE is a community dedicated to influencing today’s girls and young women to become tomorrow’s engineering and technology leaders, and to championing diversity, especially the retention and advancement of women engineers in private, public, and academic organizations. For more information about the Society please visit www.swe.org or call 312-596-5223.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Professor of Chemical Engineering Ruth E. Baltus (center) discusses Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics with students Charlotte Okwudi (left) and Tu Trinh Tran. Baltus is the recipient of the 2003 Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Distinguished Engineering Educator Award.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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