Martha Cyr, PhD, director of K-12 Outreach at WPI, has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), a national not-for-profit organization with over 600 members from engineering schools, small businesses, Fortune 500 corporations, and nonprofit organizations that works to transform culture in engineering education to attract, retain, and graduate women.
The award, presented recently at the joint national conference of WEPAN and NAMEPA (National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates), recognizes individuals whose accomplishments underscore WEPANʹs mission. Recipients are selected by a committee composed of leaders in engineering education and industry, past award winners, and WEPAN board members.
Cyr provided key leadership for the initial design and implementation of WEPAN's webinar series, served two terms on the WEPAN board, and was the liaison to the organization's conference committee for several years. A WEPAN news release noted that "she is a role model in terms of service for others and provides service in a consistent, steady, and reliable manner."
"Your selection is a reflection of the ever increasing dedication and enthusiasm you have shown in advancing women in engineering," noted Julie Martin Trenor, national president of WEPAN and assistant professor of engineering and science education at Clemson University, in a letter to Cyr. "Your enthusiasm and your desire to create an environment where women and girls are welcomed and appreciated in the engineering community are greatly appreciated."
Martha Cyr, a nationally recognized authority on K-12 educational outreach, joined WPI in 2003 after serving as director of the Center for Engineering Educational Outreach at Tufts University, where she had also taught engineering for nine years. Her position at WPI was made possible by a leadership gift from Douglas Noiles, WPI Class of 1944, and his wife, Edna. Doug Noiles is co-founder of Joint Medical Products Corporation in Stamford, Conn., and an accomplished engineer and inventor. The Noileses, longtime champions of secondary school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, recently brought their total support for K-12 outreach at WPI to more than $2 million by endowing Cyr's position.
Cyr received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of New Hampshire and a master of science and PhD in the field from WPI. She also worked as a thermal engineer for Data General Corporation and held a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program fellowship for three years working on computational thermal fluids research on the impact of liquid pooling on the energy transfer within a heat pipe in microgravity.
At WPI, she oversees one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive university-based K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) outreach programs, which includes programs targeted at students in elementary, middle, and secondary schools; programs that seek to engage girls and students from underrepresented minorities in STEM disciplines; and programs that provide training and classroom resources for teachers.
Working with researchers at other universities under a $1 million award from the National Science Foundation National Digital Library Program, Cyr helped develop TeachEngineering, an extensive online resource for K-12 educators who teach engineering. At Tufts, she was also principal investigator on a $1.5 million NSF award that funded the Tufts Engineering the Next Steps (TENS) Project and a $1.75 million award from the NSF Teacher Enhancement Program for a pre-college engineering project for teachers.
She also advised the Massachusetts Department of Education (MDOE) to help the state create frameworks for a statewide K-12 engineering curriculum (Massachusetts is the only state that requires all public schools to teach engineering). Since 2000, she has been a consultant to the MDOE on the engineering component of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), the state's mastery test.
In 2005, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) named WPI its Massachusetts state affiliate to provide pre-engineering curriculum training modules for the first time in the commonwealth. Today more than 20 Massachusetts schools participate in PLTW and Cyr serves as the state PLTW affiliate director.
Cyr has published extensively on STEM outreach and has frequently been an invited speaker on engineering education at national forums. She is a member of WEPAN, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Engineering Educators, and the National Science Teachers Association. She currently serves on the executive board of the Engineering in Massachusetts Collaborative and previously served on the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Assessing Technological Literacy and the American Society for Engineering Education K-12 Advisory Board. She received the Outstanding Teaching Award and the Special Recognition Award from the Tufts Mechanical Engineering Department.
WEPAN is the nation's leading organization and catalyst for transforming culture in engineering education to promote the success of all women. WEPAN mobilizes diverse, inclusive, and collaborative stakeholders; fosters diversity in engineering graduates, our innovators of tomorrow; inspires a network of advocates to empower and advance the education of women pursuing engineering and related disciplines; and translates research into practice and develops national models to attract and retain women in engineering. Founded in 1990, WEPAN helps meet strategic engineering workforce demand by promoting the success of girls and women who traditionally have not pursued engineering—an untapped national resource. WEPAN members are professionals who recruit, retain, and develop female engineering talent in both university and corporate settings. WEPAN is the single provider of a professional community, network, body of knowledge, and resource hub specifically for campus and corporate-based women in engineering experts.