STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Victoria Rockwell (ASME)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on December 10, 2012
Victoria A. Rockwell is the Immediate Past President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and is the Director of Investment Development for Houston-based Air Liquide USA, LLC. Rockwell joined Air Liquide in 1996. She worked previously at the Hoechst Celanese Corp. Specialty Chemicals Division, Charlotte, N.C., and Union Carbide, Tonawanda, N.Y. She is currently on the board of the Engineering, Science and Technology Council of Houston and serves as immediate past president. Rockwell earned a B.S. degree in applied science and mathematics from Empire State College in 1976, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Union College in 1978.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
They are key drivers to current and future economic success. We need a technically literate society that will embrace the future, not fear it.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
A visionary ability to do what’s needed to ensure a STEM literate workforce is essential.
What principles do you, as a leader; apply to your professional and personal life to advance the STEM cause?
I advocate for STEM as vital to precollege curriculum for all students grades K-12 and constantly seek to engage educators, legislators, parents and colleagues in the STEM discussion. I also support programs like Engineers Week, Future City, BEST, FIRST Robotics, Science Fairs, and so on, both as an employer and as a leader in the engineering professional arena.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
The quest to bring more women leaders in STEM starts in grade school. STEM subjects should be presented in grade school both as discovery-based fun and as a way to help people. STEM subjects are often presented as hard and difficult or as subjects only for boys -- a bias that is implanted in girls at an early age. This is what attracts girls – their desire to help people and do something that makes a difference in the world.
Who is your STEM role model and why?
I can’t say that I have a STEM role model. I value the work that ASME has done to bring awareness to the need for STEM education.
What is your concept of mentoring and sponsorship of others for STEM careers?
We should do everything we can to promote and encourage STEM careers. It is not just about mentoring or sponsoring an individual.
What about STEM gives you passion?
STEM can solve the grand challenges we face. Mathematics is a language common to all cultures and does not change from nation to nation. STEM provides a forum for open communication.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
I am most proud of a new recognition that ASME introduced into the EWeek portfolio – the DiscoverE Educator Awards. All of us who are in STEM fields can look back at a teacher who inspired us. Those teachers are the unsung heroes and more need to be recognized. I am proud that ASME acted on that fact and that I was part of the inauguration of the program.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
My company Air Liquide USA LLC supports STEM education programs in communities across the US. Supporting K-12 STEM programs is a way that we help promote not only a technically literate society but also help to develop future workforce needs.
Which woman leader do you most admire, and why?
Recently, I met two inspiring young women in South Africa, Mabohlale Mampuru and Naadiya Moosajee, founders of a group called South African Women in Engineering. These are the kinds of women I most admire. They see a problem and they do something personal to make change happen.