By Rebecca Rudell
As a dedicated educator, it’s no surprise that Marca Lam (BS '91, MS '94 Mechanical Engineering) was honored by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) with the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award. A senior lecturer of mechanical engineering in the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, as well as the faculty advisor of the RIT-SWE student section, she was quite surprised to learn that she won the prestigious international award.
Lam increased student attendance from 20 to 50 (actually 70, since nonorganization members also participated). She also introduced the idea of keeping club records online and helped students develop a system for organizing RIT-SWE finances and fundraising. But most importantly, she’s an incredible mentor.
She fully supports her students and encourages them to support each other, and her office door is always open. Lam attends to the smallest details—such as helping young students develop their “elevator speeches” for career fairs—which has most certainly made a dierence for countless young women in the highly competitive field of engineering.
“SWE is about more than just the technical stu because there are so many flavors of engineering involved,” she explains. “It’s more about learning how to be a more confident person who can advocate for herself.”
Aside from her remarkable abilities as a faculty advisor, Lam is also an expert in materials science and engineering design tools. She teaches courses in system dynamics, engineering vibrations and optimal design. She earned her PhD from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1997.