Female engineers say thanks to Marie Ventrice through endowment

Future female engineering students at Tennessee Tech University will miss having a personal relationship with the late Marie Ventrice, but they will come in touch with her legacy thanks to two professors who held her in high esteem.

Corinne Darvennes and Sally Pardue, mechanical engineering professors at TTU, established the Marie B. Ventrice Engineering Scholarship Endowment to applaud her role as a mentor for women in engineering, to recognize her accomplishments and to pass along the spirit of support she shared with them. Ventrice, TTU’s first tenure-track female faculty member in the College of Engineering, offered Darvennes and Pardue encouragement through both what she said and how she lived.

“She had a family and a fully committed marriage, and she was a person who was not only engaged 110 percent professionally, but had a personal life,” said Pardue.

“There’s not exactly a bevy of role models for women in engineering. Just to see that possibility was amazing.”

In her career at TTU, Ventrice served as the first director of the Center of Excellence in Electric Power and as associate dean of the College of Engineering. She won TTU’s Outstanding Faculty Award multiple times for her teaching and professional service. Colleagues say her frank, open and clear-headed manner of approaching her professional life affected them in a positive, productive manner.

“In engineering terms, she was a ‘vector,’” said Pardue. “She had magnitude, and she had direction. She knew what she wanted out of life and pursued it. She really tried to prepare us for the good and the bad — to take joy in our work, but when the challenges arise, to deal with them with strength and dignity.”

Darvennes said Ventrice faced both frustrating and rewarding times in her professional life, but encouraged many women to enter engineering doctoral programs. The scholarship was created to keep that type of encouragement alive at TTU.

“She impressed me right away by her knowledge,” said Darvennes. “She had an uncanny ability to obtain any type of information you needed. After my tenure, we worked on common goals together, and I think she was happy to have found another ‘stubborn survivor’ as she labeled herself.

“I’m glad that we set up this scholarship before she passed away and gave her an opportunity to leave on a positive note professionally, realizing that she was held in high esteem by many of the people she had worked with or mentored,” she said.

The scholarship will be awarded annually to a prospective or current female engineering student who exhibits good character and citizenship through participation in school and/or community activities.

For more information about the scholarship, contact Randy VanDeven at 931-372-3055.


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