Carolyn Heising (1952-) has contributed to Iowa State through her renowned scholarship in the field of nuclear engineering and as an outspoken role model for women engineering students.
Heising studied applied physics during her undergraduate years at the University of California at San Diego in the early 1970s. She received her Master’s degree in nuclear engineering sciences at Stanford in 1975, and continued at the school to earn her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering with a minor in operations research in 1978.
Before coming to Iowa State as a professor in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, Heising taught at MIT, Northeastern University and the University of Florida.
In November of 1986, while she was at Northeastern, Heising and 29 other members of the American Nuclear Society went to the U.S.S.R. for 16 days, as American goodwill delegates. They were the first group from the United States allowed to go on such a mission in more than a decade. Her expertise has allowed her to travel many places, including Slovenia, France, Romania, and Qatar.
She has been a professor at Iowa State since 1993, researching reliability and risk assessment, statistical quality control, total quality management and technology safety assessment of nuclear facilities. During her sabbatical year from 1999-2000, she served as a nuclear engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Heising has studied the role of gender in universities and is a co-principal investigator for a $3.5 million Iowa State University National Science Foundation Advance Grant awarded in 2006 to apply this research. The grant focused on “institutional transformation for the express purpose of advancing the careers of women faculty in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.” That same year, she was appointed chair of the national Society of Women Engineers Women in Academia Committee for a two-year term.
Heising's dedication to ensuring equal access and opportunities is an important milestone for the history of women at Iowa State.