Bevlee Watford, associate dean for academic affairs, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech, is the recipient of the 2008 Founders Award from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).
Watford, also the director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity at Virginia Tech, exemplifies the Women in Engineering ProActive Network mission. The center provides encouragement and support to engineering students, focusing on the under-represented population. Watford is “a catalyst, an advocate, and a leading resource for institutional and national change that enables the success of all women in engineering,” according to her successful nomination packet.
The organization’s founders award is named for Suzanne G. Brainard, Jane Zimmer Daniels, and Susan Staffin Metz, the original founders of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network Inc. The award honors a member who exemplifies the spirit of the network founders through extraordinary long-term service to the organization. As this award is reserved for individuals who have truly advanced the goals of the organization, it is not awarded every year. The award was presented to Watford recently at the Women in Engineering ProActive Network national conference in St. Louis, Mo.
Watford has directed the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity since its inception in 1992. In 1997, Watford became the associate dean for academic affairs. From 2005 to 2007, she was on leave from Virginia Tech, serving as a program manager in the Division of Undergraduate Education for the National Science Foundation (NSF).
This award comes after a long list of honors. She received the 1989 Young Engineer of the Year by the State of South Carolina Chapter of the Society of Professional Engineers. She also earned the 1996 Virginia Tech Affirmative Action Award for her work in support of women and other minorities in engineering. In 1997, she accepted the Charles E. Tunstall Award for Outstanding Minority Engineering Program Director. In 1998, she was selected as one of the Top Minority Women in Science and Engineering by the National Technical Association.
More recently, Watford garnered the 2002 Black Engineer of the Year award in the category of college level educators, a 2002 Advancing Women Award from the Virginia Tech Women’s Center and the 2003 Minorities in Engineering Award from the American Society for Engineering Education. In 2004, she was the first recipient of the Outstanding Commitment to Professional Development Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Region III.
Watford was the president of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network from 2004 to 2005 and has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Minority Engineering Program Administrators. She is currently a member of the National Academy of Engineering’s EngineerGirl Website Committee. Watford also served as the 2006-08 program chair for the American Society for Engineering Education’s Women in Engineering Division and is now serving as division chair for 2008-10. This position has allowed her to further efforts to increase the recruitment and retention of women students in engineering as well as the re-entry of women into the engineering profession.
In all, Watford has secured more than $4.5 million dollars in funding and support for the College of Engineering’s Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity and other undergraduate programs from a variety of sources including the National Science Foundation, the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, General Electric Foundation, Intel, Sloan Foundation, Corning Foundation, Honeywell International, Ingersol Rand, and Microsoft.
The Women in Engineering ProActive Network is the nation’s leading organization and catalyst for transforming culture in engineering education to promote the success of all women.