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A Summer Science Program: Why Settle for Lazy, Hazy and Crazy?
--Mentoring with Molluscs and Flexing New Mussels

Narrowing the Engineering Gender Gap
--Andrea Bill '01: Trailblazer

Orientation Program Helps New Students Make Friends and Influence People

Thinking Outside the Box: MHC's Decision to Downplay the SAT

Why Are All the Jews and Muslims Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?


Mount Holyoke College News and Events College Street Journal Vista



  Andrea R. Bill '01, shown here with UMass engineering professor Jonathan Upchurch, has set her sights on becoming a civil engineer. (See story below.)
Rank the professions by the inroads made by women, and engineering comes near the bottom of the list. Male graduates of baccalaureate engineering programs outnumber their female peers by a ratio of four to one, while in industry the gender gap stretches even wider: nine of ten engineering jobs are held by men. Mount Holyoke is trying to help balance the equation.

Many efforts have been made to increase the participation of women in engineering and the sciences. Colleges of engineering have created programs aimed at attracting women. Several liberal arts institutions have established their own engineering programs. Mount Holyoke, through an enterprising new private/public collaboration with the nearby University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is taking a new approach--one that offers students unique advantages.

A new five-year, dual-degree program will allow students working toward a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics or one of the sciences at Mount Holyoke to also earn a bachelor of science degree in chemical, mechanical, civil, electrical, or computer systems engineering from the nearby University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Students will earn two degrees in five years of study, receiving both an excellent liberal arts education and a world-class professional degree, without either being diluted. Yet the two degrees will cost no more in tuition than would a single degree.

Each student will be a resident at the College in her first, second, and fourth years, and at the university in her third year, taking courses through the Five College Exchange. She will be enrolled at Mount Holyoke for her first four years, receiving her A.B. from the College at the end of that time, and will then be enrolled at UMass for her fifth year, receiving her B.S. from that institution. Mount Holyoke will collect four years of tuition, room, and board, and handle all tuition arrangements. The student will be responsible for her room and board in her fifth year. The new collaboration is similar to engineering programs the College offers with Dartmouth College and the California Institute of Technology. However, the UMass connection offers students the tuition advantage, as well as the ability to maintain closer ties to friends and activities at the College.

Through this new collaboration, Mount Holyoke continues its historic role as a leader in the education of women in the sciences. For more information about the dual-degree program, visit

Andrea Bill '01: Trailblazer

Andrea Bill has long been interested in basic Newtonian physics. Engineering has also held appeal for her for some time. But when she was applying to colleges, the idea of attending a four-year engineering school left her cold. For Bill, a well-rounded education was important; she enrolled at Mount Holyoke in 1997 and focused on the sciences.

Four years later, after earning a degree from Mount Holyoke in physics and classics, Bill is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering at the University at Massachusetts, Amherst. She designed her own course of study, but it mirrors almost exactly the College’s new collaborative engineering program with the university. Thus, Bill is an unwitting trailblazer--one who is thrilled that the path is being smoothed for those who will come after her.

Initially apprehensive about leaving an all-women environment to study at UMass, she quickly discovered that she could more than hold her own there. In fact, in a course on transportation engineering, she was one of the top two students in a class of twenty-seven. “Andrea was very well prepared for her engineering classes,” says Jonathan Upchurch, a professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at UMass. Upchurch appreciates the perspective Bill brings to her work: “The liberal arts background does make someone more aware that there is a people side to the equation, as well as a technical side,” he says.

“I would not have been able to go through with studying engineering if I hadn’t gone to Mount Holyoke,” Bill says. “The College gave me the self-confidence and solid foundation I needed.” Bill, a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society, credits her research abilities, her people skills, her writing talents, and her approach to solving problems to her education at a women’s institution.


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Copyright © 2001 Mount Holyoke College. This page created by Don St. John and maintained by Office of Communications. Last modified on December 11, 2001.

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