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Engineering students hear from a successful alumna

David Wu, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, and Paige Sutton ’12, president of the student chapter of Society of Women’s Engineers, meet with Ellen Iobst ’81 at SWE’s annual dinner.

Continuing the year-long celebration of 40 years of women undergraduates at Lehigh, the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) recently sponsored an address by Ellen Iobst ’81, senior vice president of Sunny Delight Beverages Co.

Iobst, who earned a B.S. in chemical engineering, said women have contributed to the engineering professions in two significant ways—by seeking consensus leadership and by viewing challenges in holistic ways.

She made her remarks to an audience of students, faculty, engineering alumnae and industry representatives at SWE’s annual dinner April 11 in the University Center.

Iobst, whose father, grandfather and brother are Lehigh engineering alumni and whose son is currently an industrial engineering major, said it is the responsibility of today’s women engineers to improve the field for future generations.

She spoke of her early successes at Procter and Gamble, and of her responsibilities as chief sustainability officer and senior vice president of manufacturing and technology at Sunny D.

Her most notable accomplishment at Sunny D, she said, came when the company’s manufacturing plants achieved a goal of “zero waste to landfills” in a five-year period. Not only did she help change Sunny D’s corporate culture, Iobst said, but she also helped the company meet its goal three years ahead of schedule.

“Ellen has made a difference using her skills as a chemical engineer and hopefully our female students will be encouraged to make a difference as well,” said Sharon Kalafut, professor of practice in computer science and engineering and Lehigh’s SWE chapter adviser.

Support for the event was provided by corporate sponsors Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, LSI Corp. and Lutron Electronics Inc. The companies also made a charitable contribution to an engineering scholarship fund.


Photo by Suzanne Irvine

Story by Dawn Thren

Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2012

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