Carnegie Mellon University
May 02, 2013

Carnegie Mellon's Chemical Engineering Department Sees Higher Percentage of Women Marching Across Commencement Stage

CMU Female Engineers Find More Job Opportunities in a Variety of Industry Sectors

Contact: Chriss Swaney / 412-268-5776 /

PITTSBURGH-Carnegie Mellon University women are poised to add more oomph to the U.S. economy as they enter a job market that remains a wild card in the recovery picture.

Erin Donnelly, Stephanie Engel, Rocio Garay, Abby Schaeffer and Mala Shah are among the growing ranks of female chemical engineers in a male-dominated field working at chemical plants and manufacturing facilities from coast-to-coast.

The 38 women in the class of 2013 will hone their CMU problem-solving skills and innovation from the plant floors of Caterpillar and Boeing to the clean rooms of Intel and PPG Industries.

"This has been a wonderful year for chemical engineering with women graduates making up more than 50 percent of our 2013 class," said Andy Gellman, head of CMU's Chemical Engineering Department and co-director of the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. "I think these increases are due in part to the jobs boom built on energy, and the desire for women to compete in areas once traditionally reserved for men."

Shah, of Elmwood Park, N.J., will head to Caterpillar in Peoria, Ill., after she snares her chemical engineering diploma at CMU May 19.

"I'll be an associate engineer in Caterpillar's leadership and technical development program where I can really put some of my classroom work to real-world use," she said. "I loved CMU because of its multicultural values, and its atmosphere of pushing me beyond my expectations."

For Donnelly, a chemical engineering senior from Long Island, N.Y., the CMU experience has been very rewarding.

"I'll be supporting the chemical and coating technologies utilized in the manufacturing of the Boeing 737, and I'm absolutely thrilled. My job search, as a soon to be CMU graduate, has shown me that our degrees are recession proof," Donnelly said. "I call it the CMU bubble." She also credits her leadership skills gained from campus organizations for advancing her career goals.

While the economy slowly chugs along, Donnelly and her classmates boast multiple job offers. Both Garay of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Engel of Erie, Pa., had three to four job offers during the fall semester. Garay will work at Braskem, a supplier for consumer product and automotive industries.

Engel, who worked at PPG last summer, turned her internship into a full-time job. She will be working at a PPG plant near Barberton, Ohio, just two hours from her family home.

"I really enjoy getting into my steel-toed shoes and diving into all the plant's process-oriented work," Engel said. "CMU did a fantastic job of preparing me for the competitive job market."

Not all female CMU grads are scaling the manufacturing ladder. Schaeffer, a senior from New York City, opted to work for giant chipmaker Intel.

"You simply can't go wrong with an engineering degree. It opens so many doors," Schaeffer said. "I also think my junior year abroad at London's Imperial College helped me mature and better understand the global economy."

This ever-improving allocation of female talent continues to lead to substantial productivity. More than 57 percent of the bachelor's degrees awarded in 2011 went to women, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And the U.S. Labor Department estimates that the engineering profession will continue to rank as one of the top U.S. job creators for the next decade.