A summer research fellowship results in a sisterhood of support

Past recipients of the Thompson-Bartlett Summer Research Fellowship return to mentor the newest cohort

Alumni pose with scholarship recipients

Career coach and benefactor, Dede Bartlett, along with alumni offer current students advice at the Princeton Club

Each summer since 2007, members of the School of Engineering faculty have opened their labs to allow rising sophomore, junior, and senior students to work at a level generally reserved for master’s and doctoral candidates. Listing the Undergraduate Summer Research Program, as it is known, on a CV is always impressive, and since 2012, outstanding female undergraduates have been eligible for an additional honor: the Thompson-Bartlett Summer Research Fellowship, sponsored by longtime benefactor Dede Bartlett.

Bartlett — a former executive with two Fortune 500 companies (Exxon Mobil and Altria) — launched the fellowship in honor of her father, George Juul Thompson, who graduated in 1930 from what was then affectionately known as Brooklyn Poly and returned to teach electrical engineering at the school from 1948 to 1968.

“During his two decades of teaching, he had only one female student,” Bartlett explained, “and I wanted to help change that.”

On June 6, while hosting a gathering for the newest cohort of fellows, she got to see just how massive a change is underway at the School of Engineering, thanks in large part to her efforts. (The gathering took place at the Princeton Club in midtown Manhattan, which, as she informed her incredulous young audience, did not allow female guests above the second floor for many decades.)

At the elegant event, the undergraduates met not only Bartlett but four former fellows, there to offer advice and encouragement:

  • Sarah Appelbaum (’15), now a senior associate at Acquis Consulting Group
  • Nima Simon (’18), a gas turbine design engineer at General Electric
  • Anam Waheed (’16), who now serves as a visiting industry professor at Tandon
  • Louise Chen (’19), the immediate past president of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society who is continuing her research in Professor Ayaskanta Sahu’s Hybrid Nanomaterials Lab

A lively conversation ensued that touched upon such topics as the benefits of participation in research, choosing a career path, attaining work-life balance, and strategies for success.

“Our panelists have taken time from their busy schedules to come talk to you today, and I hope that in the coming years you’ll do the same,” Assistant Dean Nicole Johnson, who heads the Women at Tandon Committee and who helped organize the event, said. “As Thompson-Bartlett Fellows, you can form a strong network of support for one another and for all the women who will follow in your footsteps at Tandon in the future.”