Dr. Pamela McCauley—STEM advocate, world-renowned industrial engineer, entrepreneur and university leader—has joined the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Board of Trustees.
McCauley is the Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the Wilson College of Textiles at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., where she also serves as a full professor in the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management. Prior to joining NC State this past May, she spent 27 years at the University of Central Florida, where she served as professor and director of the Ergonomics and Human Factors Laboratory in the Industrial Engineering and Management Systems Department.
“We are so excited to have Dr. McCauley join the Board of Trustees at WPI,” says President Laurie Leshin. “She has deep expertise in engineering higher education and research. Her academic experience and values are highly aligned with our priorities at WPI. And I share Dr. McCauley’s strong commitment for advancing diversity in STEM. Recognized in national and international scientific communities, both for her research and for her work in STEM equity and inclusion, she has inspired countless students to consider STEM careers. As a recipient of the 2015 Black Engineer of the Year Award for educational leadership and a frequent keynote speaker on leadership, diversity and innovation in STEM education, she will be a wonderful addition to the WPI Board.”
As an industrial engineering researcher, McCauley is known for her significant work in human-factors engineering, ergonomics, biomechanics and the development of fuzzy set theory, which deals with imprecise or vague data.
“I’ve focused on introducing innovation and technology to healthcare workers to better protect them while they are delivering critical services,” says McCauley, who is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. “I have worked on innovation in HIV and AIDS healthcare services delivery, and researched different types of PPE that allow workers the most dexterity, while still protecting them. That work has meant a lot to me.”
McCauley is a sought-after conference speaker and authored a best-selling textbook, Ergonomics: Foundational Principles, Applications, and Technologies. She also has written a research-based book, Transforming Your STEM Career Through Leadership and Innovation: Inspiration and Strategies for Women, as well as Winners Don’t Quit … Today They Call Me Doctor, which focuses on the call for leadership, particularly among minorities and women, in STEM fields.
“My focus has been in growing diversity and keeping the women who are working in STEM in STEM,” she says. “More than 50 percent of women who enter STEM careers in their mid-20s will leave the field by the middle of their careers. I say, ‘Don’t leave!’ We have gotten so much better at understanding the benefits of work/life balance and not leaving people feeling isolated. I urge women to stay the course, build a support system and know they are valuable, because we desperately need women to stay and continue impacting the world through STEM.”
“I have mentored scores of women and I’ve talked with them about this. We need to have every able mind prepared to help support the challenges we’re facing as a global society. Once we diversify our workforce, let’s keep it that way. We need a culture that is truly inclusive, where people feel valued and respected.”
That deep belief in diversity and inclusion is a big part of what drew McCauley to WPI. She first became involved on campus as an Executive Board Member on the Diversity Advocacy Board.
“I see action when I see WPI,” she notes. “Everyone is very intentional about making others feel valued in the whole community. “I absolutely love the leadership style of Laurie Leshin. She’s such a forward thinker and seems to truly value diversity, inclusion and equity. I’ve seen that bold leadership and how it’s shaped and impacted so many people at WPI. I’m hoping to be another voice supporting that. Being on the board, I feel I can positively impact the future for WPI students and help position them to be world leaders.”
In 2017, McCauley was tapped by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to be the program director for its Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program, managing a $15.5 million annual budget and engaging the national innovation community. And in 2015 the U.S. State Department awarded McCauley the prestigious Jefferson Science Fellowship, given to distinguished and experienced senior academics who are tasked with lending their knowledge to Department of State and USAID policy discussions. During her fellowship, she was a member of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) project, researching the healthcare delivery system for HIV/AIDS in developing nations, and creating a new approach that takes advantage of technology to make the process more efficient.
McCauley joins 28 other members of WPI’s Board of Trustees, which includes both educators and leaders of manufacturing, pharmaceutical and biotechnology organizations. Elected in May, 2020, she officially joined the board July 1.
-By Sharon Gaudin