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NC State Engineer Wins Presidential Award for Excellence

The White House has announced that Dr. Laura Bottomley, director of K-12 Engineering Outreach Programs at North Carolina State University, has won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

The awards honor the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science or engineering and who belong to groups that are underrepresented in those fields. Bottomley was one of 22 individuals and organizations honored July 9 by President Barack Obama for excellence in mentoring.

“There is no higher calling than furthering the educational advancement of our nation’s young people and encouraging and inspiring our next generation of leaders,” Obama said in a statement. “These awards represent a heartfelt salute of appreciation to a remarkable group of individuals who have devoted their lives and careers to helping others and in doing so have helped us all.”

Candidates for the Presidential Mentoring Award are nominated by colleagues, administrators and students from their home institutions. The mentoring can involve students at any grade level from elementary through graduate school. In addition to being honored at a ceremony at the White House this fall, recipients receive awards of $10,000 to advance their mentoring efforts.

In her role as director of K-12 Engineering Outreach Programs at NC State, Bottomley reaches more than 5,000 students, 200 teachers and 500 parents each year. The programs she leads include summer camps for K-12 students; programs that send undergraduates and graduate students into schools to work with elementary and middle school students; training sessions for NC State engineering alumni who want to be volunteer teachers in their communities; and assistance for K-12 teachers who want to introduce engineering concepts to their young students.

Bottomley also directs NC State’s Women in Engineering program, which works to boost the number of women engineers in academia and industry, and acts as a consultant to the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction and Wake County Public Schools.

Bottomley received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 1984 and 1985, respectively. She received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from NC State in 1992. She has previously worked at AT&T Bell Labs and Duke University.