Santa Clara University



Mentoring the Next Generation of Engineers

Recognizing the challenges women and traditionally underrepresented minority groups often face in choosing engineering as their academic and career path, the School of Engineering has taken a giant step in aiding their success by partnering with MentorNet, an online community that pairs students with engineering professionals for email-based mentoring.  Through the School’s subscription to the program, engineering students of all levels —undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D.— can sign up, at no charge to them, to become the online protégés of professionals from business, academia, and government sectors to receive one-on-one encouragement, advice, and access to professional networks. Junior faculty members are also eligible to participate.

Founded in 1997, MentorNet is an award-winning non-profit network striving to positively affect the retention and success of those in the fields of engineering, science and mathematics, particularly, but not exclusively, women and others who have been traditionally underrepresented. As founder Carol Muller, Ph.D., notes “Until women and people of color are fully represented in the fields of science and engineering, society is losing out on the talents of a vast number of potential contributors.”

Geri Lamble, MentorNet ProtegeMuller notes that protégés’ concerns often center on self-confidence issues and career options. This was certainly the case for Geri Lamble, SCU computer engineering protégé, who reports that following a serious car accident in 2005, her confidence was shaken when injuries affected her ability to continue her Ph.D. studies. An email invitation to join MentorNet opened the door to a wealth of opportunity and knowledge. “With a mentor,” she said, “I could express my inadequacies and fears. I didn’t feel I could do that within my department. A mentor allowed me a forum to do that.”

Ruth Davis, associate dean for undergraduate studies and University Lee and Seymour Graff Professor of computer engineering, was instrumental in bringing this benefit to the students. “Sometimes educating the whole person means pointing them in the right direction to learn from others outside our institution. This program perfectly fits our mission of educating a diverse community of leaders of academic excellence and social conscience. Not only does it provide a positive, non-threatening environment in which our students can grow and thrive, but it also affords an opportunity for our alumni to reach back and assist the next generation of engineers.”

For more information, or to join as a protégé or mentor, contact Patti Rimland, or visit

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