Iowa State University


Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Sheila E. Widnall will speak to several groups of students, faculty and administrators interested in science and engineering this Friday and Saturday (March 21-22) at Iowa State University.

Widnall, who has served as secretary since August 1993, oversees the 815,000 active, reserve and civilian personnel who make up the U.S. Air Force. In this position, she is responsible for recruiting, training, maintenance, logistics, research and development, and the welfare of personnel. In addition, she is charged with planning, justifying and allocating the service's annual budget of $62 billion.

Widnall will speak at the following events:

4:45 p.m. Friday, Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State Science and Technology Fair

8:15 p.m. Friday, Scheman Building, 10th anniversary banquet for ISU's; Rooms 220 - 240, Program for Women in Science and Engineering (PWSE)

10 a.m. Saturday, Memorial Union Great Hall, PWSE Career Conference

During the Saturday morning event, Widnall will address about 600 female sixth- through ninth-grade students. She also is scheduled to meet with Iowa State ROTC students during her stay.

Widnall is looking forward to attending the Iowa State events, particularly the first Iowa State Science and Technology Fair.

"A science fair can literally change the course of a young person's life," said Widnall. "As a high school student, I competed in a national science fair in Cleveland. As a result of that event, an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) alumnus approached me and informed me about his university where I later spent more than 30 years of my life -- as a student, faculty member and administration official.

"The Air Force relies heavily on the latest developments in science and technology, and we have a vested interest in encouraging young people to pursue related careers," said Widnall. "I'm very pleased to visit Iowa State and promote careers in science and engineering, particularly for young women.

"As a woman scientist, educator, and Air Force recruiter, I believe these career fields offer a great deal to women in terms of making a significant contribution to society and providing professional fulfillment," she said.

Widnall earned her B.S., M.S. (both in aeronautics and astronautics) and Ph.D. degrees from MIT. She spent 28 years at MIT as a faculty member, where she rose to the position of associate provost. A professor of aeronautics and astronautics, Widnall is internationally known for her work in fluid dynamics, specifically in the areas of aircraft turbulence and spiraling airflows.

Widnall has received several distinctions during her career, including the National Academy of Engineering Distinguished Service Award (1993), and holds honorary degrees from Princeton University (1994) and Suffolk University (1994). In 1996, she was inducted into the Women in Aviation Hall of Fame.

Among professional association memberships, Widnall is past president and past chairperson of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; a member of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and the Government; a member of the National Academy of Engineering; and a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Scientific Responsibility.

Widnall is an avid bicyclist and participated in last year's RAGBRAI event.

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Media are invited to attend Secretary Widnall's address at the Iowa State Science and Technology Fair, at approximately 4:45 p.m., Friday. There will be an opportunity for the media to interview Secretary Widnall at approximately 5 p.m. immediately after her address. Media also can attend her address at the PWSE, which begins at 8:15 p.m. For more information about interviews, contact Skip Derra, ISU News Service, (515) 294-4917


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Revi sed 3/20/97