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Karen A. Thole

2012 Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award Past Recipient

Karen A. Thole, Professor and Department Head, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, College of Engineering

Peggy Lorah

(L to R) Christy Long and Karen A. Thole.

Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award
The Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award winner is Dr. Karen Ann Thole.

Dr. Thole is department head for mechanical and nuclear engineering in the College of Engineering and a professor of mechanical engineering.

As stated by one of her nominators, “Words are not nearly enough to capture Dr. Thole’s character or describe her impact on those around her.” Words extracted from the letters of support for Dr. Thole’s nomination include “inspirational,” “approachable,” “challenger,” “advocate,” “believer,” “professional,” “inventive,” “successful,” “committed,” “determined,” “tenacious,” “competitive,” “assertive,” “persistent,” “passionate,” “charismatic,” “enthusiastic,” “encouraging,” “gracious,” “supportive,” “dependable,” “reliable,” “trustworthy,” “diligent,” “steadfast,” “compassionate,” “persevering,” “diligent,” “considerate,” “patient,” “enjoyable,” “wholehearted,” “generous,” “positive,” “optimistic,” “remarkable,” “extraordinary,” “unique,” “leader,” “mentor,” “ambitious,” “dynamic,” “dedicated,” “strong,” and “energetic.”

Dr. Thole’s numerous mentoring activities include founding of the Penn State Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, advising and coaching the Penn State American Society for Mechanical Engineers, designing and implementing the nationally recognized Penn State Engineering Ambassadors program, participating in the Penn State Women in Engineering Program Orientation, organizing the Penn State Mechanical Engineering Society and the PSMES Mentor Program, establishing the Penn State Nuclear Engineering Society, establishing and hosting the New Faculty Mentor luncheons, and mentoring the Experimental and Computational Convection Laboratory students.

In 2011, Dr. Thole was invited to The White House by President Obama staff and named a 2011 Champion of Change for Girls and Women in STEM, one of twelve local leaders in the effort to recruit and retain girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This award was the result of her work to further expand the Engineering Ambassadors program to other colleges and universities through National Science Foundation support and mentoring other colleagues from other educational institutions.