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2016 Ward Lecture Features Former NASA Leader Gretchen McClain

2016 Ward Lecturer: Business and thought leader Gretchen McClain
2016 Ward Lecturer: Business and thought leader Gretchen McClain

On Friday, February 19, 2016, Villanova University College of Engineering will present the sixth annual Patrick J. Cunningham Jr. and Susan Ward ’80 Endowed Lecture Series. As the highlight of the College’s Engineers’ Week activities, the Ward Lecture provides Villanova engineering students with exposure to the nation’s leading technical experts from various engineering disciplines. This year’s speaker is business and thought leader Gretchen McClain, whose 25 years of global experience includes serving as founding CEO of an S&P 500 global water technology company, and NASA’s Chief Director of the International Space Station.

In her presentation, “The Doors Technology Can Open: The Broad Career & Exciting Opportunities in Front of You,” McClain will speak to the urgent need and exciting time for bold and talented STEM professionals. She says, “Looking at life’s challenges through an engineer’s eyes gives you a powerful advantage: You have the analytical thinking skills and the technological acumen to untangle the most complex problems, as well as the perspective to see the bigger picture.” McClain adds, however, that achieving the greatest impact requires broader leadership skills on top of a sound engineering foundation. “A professional with critical thinking, and creative storytelling skills—and an entrepreneurial spirit—is a rare find, but these are the qualities that will determine how fast and how far your career will advance.” With this in mind, McClain will share insight on how to become a standout leader, including learning how to collaborate effectively, connecting your work to your higher purpose, and staying open to the many different and adventurous paths available to students in the 21st century.

The Ward Lecture, which is open to the public, will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, February 19, 2016 in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center on Villanova’s campus. After McClain’s presentation, there will be time for Q & A with the audience. The lecture will be streamed live and recorded.

About the Ward Lecture: The Ward Lecture Series is made possible by a generous gift from College of Engineering alumna Susan Ward ’80 ChE and her husband Patrick Cunningham. Since the inaugural lecture in 2010, industry leaders have covered topics ranging from interactive digital games and human expression, space flight, the multimillion dollar expansion of the Panama Canal, the engineer’s role in design and innovation, and large-scale engineering project management. Lectures are recorded and available on the College website.