Tinkering to Success
“Scientists and engineers at all levels need the opportunity to tinker. That’s how discoveries are made.
I chose MHC’s liberal arts and sciences program over the engineering program at UMass to help me maintain a balance of academic interests.
My professors took it upon themselves to teach me experimental techniques.
They said that although they couldn’t provide the scope of theoretical training that I’d get at a school like MIT, they would give me strong foundations through independent study.
They did—and that kind of individualized attention is what sets Mount Holyoke apart."
For more than 25 years, Lydia J. Young ’75, Ph.D. has been a technical contributor and leader of multidisciplinary teams in the development of complex equipment for the manufacture of semiconductors and LCD flat panels. A named inventor on 13 U.S. patents, Young currently is a program manager at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.
Her accomplishments, she said, reflect a lesson learned early on at Mount Holyoke. “My physics and chemistry professors presented problems that weren’t
traditionally part of an undergraduate curriculum. They wanted us to just explore. As a result, I learned that often there is no one right approach or answer.”
Young credits those same professors with teaching the problem-solving skills that she continues to use daily—and encouraging her aptitude for engineering. During the Campaign, Young funded the machine shop to promote the type of hands-on exploration that proved so vital to her success. Located in Shattuck, it has allowed students and staff in all the sciences to build, operate, and test equipment of their own design—some of which will connect to professors’ research.
“If you hold leadership positions in science—engineering, in particular—you have to know what it takes to do the task. You can’t direct someone else without having done it yourself.
“My primary motivation for making this gift was to help students acquire that hands-on knowledge,” said Young.