Virginia Booth Womack

Virginia Booth Womack

Director, Minority Engineering Program

vboothgl@purdue.edu

Virginia (Lynn) Booth Womack is from Indianapolis, Indiana. The first in a family of five to attend college, Virginia received a four-year scholarship to Purdue University from Father Boniface Hardin, President of what was then known as Martin Center College in Indianapolis, Indiana. Martin Center College is now known as Martin University. She is a Purdue University graduate with a B.S. Degree in Industrial Engineering and a B.A. Degree in Psychology. While at Purdue, Virginia was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and actively involved with Purdue’s Minority Engineering Program (MEP). She was mentored by Purdue University President Emeritus, Dr. Arthur Hansen, and challenged to run for National Chair of NSBE with a commitment from President Emeritus Hansen and Purdue University to help support the foundation of the national body.

After being elected, Purdue University provided an office for the first National Headquarters. Virginia was invited to speak at the National Advisory Council for the Minorities in Engineering consortium in Washington D.C. In attendance were Fortune 500 CEOs and University Presidents from top academic institutions that gathered together to determine how to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the fields of engineering and science. Her open, candid, and personal discussion of the needs of African American students pursuing engineering and science and the personal responsibility such students embraced by forming NSBE, launched national support for NSBE from both corporate and university leaders. As the first female National Chair and the first to serve two consecutive terms of office, over 50 universities received their official 'charter chapter' status during her two terms of office.

While still a student, Virginia worked under Marion Williamson-Blalock and assisted in developing many of the activities that are still vital elements of MEP at Purdue University. She served as Assistant to the Director of MEP during the inception of the MEP Freshman Orientation Seminar (Engineering 180) and the formation of other minority organizations now well established at Purdue.

Virginia has worked for Proctor & Gamble, Eli Lilly Corporation, RCA, General Dynamics, and served as School Administrator for Bibleway Christian Academy (Toledo, Ohio) serving grades Preschool through 12. Before coming to Purdue, she worked at DaimlerChrysler Corporation where she spent 10 years and served as Lean Manufacturing Manager for the Powertrain Division. She was responsible for 100% implementation of training and integration of lean manufacturing principles.

As the Director of MEP, Virginia has worked to continue the legacy established at Purdue through the tireless efforts of Ms. Blalock and others in the effort to increase the number of engineering graduates from Purdue University among those who traditionally have been underrepresented in the fields of engineering and science. Virginia recently served as Interim Executive Director for NSBE. The Dean of the College of Engineering allowed Virginia to be on loan to NSBE as their Interim Executive Director while they conducted a search, secured, and transitioned a new Executive Director. During this period, Virginia successfully managed a 14-million-dollar operation with approximately 30 employees through a very difficult transition. She oversaw and maintained organizational viability, increased corporate sponsorship, program outreach, and professional development.

In addition to leading MEP and transforming the lives of the next generation of engineers that pass through MEP, Virginia is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University with a focus on inclusive leadership across academia, corporations, and civic engagement. She plans to use her research to inform national efforts in broadening the participation of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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