Here at North End Metro, we have sought to make women’s stories a regular part of our publication through our “Wonder Woman” column, which honors the achievements and contributions of women in leadership roles throughout Snohomish County. This issue we are pleased to expand that column into a special feature article, which highlights the ways five local women are making a difference. They are accomplished community leaders who actively work to help others reach their potential. We applaud their efforts, as well as the efforts of many other women like them who make Snohomish County a better place.
Dean of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, UW Bothell
Dean Elaine Scott has led the School of STEM at the University of Washington, Bothell, during an exciting time of growth and change. Hired four years ago as director of the Science and Technology Program, she oversaw the reorganization of two existing programs into the School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and was named dean. Today, it is the fastest-growing school at UW Bothell, which is the fastest-growing university in the state. Since the School of STEM’s creation in 2013, Scott has developed fourteen new degree programs, and doubled the number of faculty members, research proposals, and enrolled students. To accommodate such rapid growth, the school moved into the newly constructed Discovery Hall in 2014. The sustainably built, state-of-the-art $68-million science and academic building offers 75,000-square-feet, including a 200-seat lecture hall, three classrooms, 14 science labs, and 26 offices. “We’ve grown tremendously, and we are continuing to grow,” Scott said. This year the school expects to hire as many as fifteen new faculty members. Under Scott’s leadership, the school prioritizes inclusivity and is committed to fostering the diverse perspectives of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM. Forty percent of UW Bothell’s computing and software systems faculty are women, which far outpaces the national average. Of incoming first-year students, one third are the first in their families to earn a four-year degree, and half are from diverse backgrounds. “We need these different perspectives in STEM, not just for the benefit of women and underrepresented minorities, which is very important, but also because thought diversity leads to better, more varied solutions,” Scott said. “It’s a matter of importance for our nation’s economy.” It would be hard to overstate UW Bothell’s impact on the economic vitality of the Puget Sound region. Statewide, jobs in STEM are projected to grow by 24 percent in the next two years, thanks to thriving technology, biotech, and aerospace industries. UW Bothell’s School of STEM is preparing students for these careers. More than 90 percent of the school’s graduates remain in the Puget Sound region to work in industry or research. Scott holds not one, but two doctorates in engineering from Michigan State University, where she studied both agricultural engineering and mechanical engineering. Her research in the study of heat transfer has led to innovative biomedical, power electronics, and aerospace applications. She worked with NASA to quantify the thermal aspects of complex materials and determined how to measure the localized distribution of heat that vehicles experience during atmospheric re-entry. In 2015 she earned the School of STEM’s first Fulbright award to travel to Australia, where she developed curriculum and established international connections. Earlier this year, Scott received the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal from the University of California, Davis, where she earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering. Reflecting on her early experiences as a professor of engineering, she recalled, “When I first became a professor, I was the only woman in my department.” Though women and people from diverse backgrounds have made gains in engineering and other STEM fields in recent years, the need for progress remains. “There are so many opportunities for women in STEM,” Scott said. Thanks to Scott and the School of STEM, its graduates will impact the future of STEM, the Puget Sound region, and more. “I really can’t imagine doing anything else. There are lots of opportunities to better the world through STEM if you’re thoughtful,” Scott said. “Solve problems, advance science, make discoveries, create new technologies, help people, protect the environment, and make a positive impact on the world— that’s what I hope our students graduate and go out and do.”