Former ASME president tells engineering students 'the sky is the limit'


By Erin Cassidy Hendrick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Charla Wise, former president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and retired vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, recently visited the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering to share her insights on the future of mechanical engineering and how today’s students are poised to change the trajectory of the field.

“Tomorrow’s engineers are the innovators of tomorrow,” she said during her talk on Oct. 1 in the Gurshaney Family E-Knowledge Commons.

Wise also spoke at length about the importance of professional societies like ASME and how they can be critical resources for students to further technology, provide interactions among engineers and create safety standards.

“ASME has a vision to be the essential resource for mechanical engineers and other professionals to find solutions to problems that benefit mankind,” she said.

As so many technologies advance exponentially, particularly manufacturing, robotics, bioengineering, pressure technology and clean energy, Wise also charged mechanical engineers to be ethical and innovative stewards of these innovations.

“I think the future is bright for you,” she said. “Mechanical engineers can work in any job or project because they’re problem solvers. You are uniquely positioned to drive and create the future.”

This event was the second lecture by a featured speaker in the mechanical engineering talk sessions, a year-long celebration of the newly relaunched department. The final event will be held on Oct. 28 in the Gurshaney Family E-Knowledge Commons and will feature a panel of impactful alumni to share their perspectives on “Mechanical Engineering of the Future.”

“These events have been fantastic opportunities for our students to hear from prominent engineering thought leaders and absorb their extensive knowledge of the field,” said Karen Thole, distinguished professor and mechanical engineering department head. “We were thrilled to host Charla and hope our students take these lessons to heart.”

Drawing upon the semester-long theme of looking to the future, Wise concluded, “The sky is the limit. Or maybe not? There is always Mars.”

Photos of the event can be found on Flickr.


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Megan Lakatos

“The sky is the limit. Or maybe not? There is always Mars.”
—Charla Wise, former president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers



With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 800 undergraduate students, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering embraces a culture that welcomes individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty and students are innovating today what will impact tomorrow’s solutions to meeting our energy needs, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems. We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S.) graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at

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