Newswise — UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Susan Stewart, senior research associate and associate professor of aerospace engineering at Penn State, was recently named the recipient of the Penn State Commission for Women 2017 Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award.

She was honored during a ceremony on April 7 at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center at University Park.

The award was created in memory of Rosemary Schraer, former associate provost for Penn State, and honors a current University employee, regardless of gender, who exemplifies Schraer's giving of herself as a mentor.

“I am honored to be selected as a recipient of this award,” said Stewart. “A couple of outstanding women who have proven to be great mentors to me at various points in my career are prior recipients of the award, and it is hard to express how it feels to know my name will be listed among theirs. I am truly humbled.”

Since joining the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Stewart has been exceptionally generous with her time outside of the classroom in extracurricular activities related to wind energy and aerospace engineering.

Stewart is the lead strategic adviser of the Penn State Wind Energy Club that won consecutive titles in 2014 and 2016 at the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition. Under Stewart’s leadership, the club members not only learned how to build their own wind turbine, but also learned how to develop and deliver a business plan based on market research and establish a deployment strategy. The club will now also provide outreach activities to high school students in Pennsylvania, offering an invaluable educational opportunity and leadership experience for the members, who are enrolled in various majors at the University.

As director of the Pennsylvania (PA) Wind for Schools (WfS) Program which supports wind energy education programs at universities, as well as at primary and secondary schools, Stewart is helping to address major challenges for the wind energy industry. The PA WfS Program places significant emphasis on programming and services including professional development workshops for middle school and high school teachers, and KidWind competitions where current Penn State students gain valuable experience in managing hands-on activities with secondary school students.

“I have a tremendous appreciation for, and a great sense of pride in, the students I get to work with,” said Stewart. “I can sense they feel honored and have an appreciation for being Penn Staters, and that drives them to be successful. That also drives me, especially being a Penn State alumna, to help them reach their goals, plan their careers and see them achieve the careers they want, no matter what field they go into.”

Stewart received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Penn State and her master’s degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Following graduation, she helped start the Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute before joining Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory as a research associate in 2007. She moved to the aerospace engineering department in 2011.

Stewart’s research area is energy system design optimization as a function of component design, economics and renewable energy resource conditions. In particular, she holds a detailed understanding of the technology, siting and economic development issues with renewable energy. 

“I’m grateful to have received this award because I believe it ties in well to the University’s ‘All in at Penn State’ initiative,” said Stewart. “Inclusivity is such a powerful message. It not only helps in achieving a diverse and welcoming environment, but it also creates a climate in which educators should be asking what can we do to create an engaging, supportive environment for all of our students.”

Chris Spallino

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