Linda Schadler
Linda Schadler
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
NY

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Close Up
  • Describe what you do in your current work situation.
    I am in charge of institute wide programs for undergraduates at Rensselaer. This includes study abroad programs, the general curriculum, student advising, and more. I am also still a Professor and do research in the area of polymer nanocomposites (!) and teach materials science and engineering courses
  • Why did you choose engineering?
    Because I wanted to be in a field that created new things (so it never got boring) and helped solve some of the world's most pressing problems.
  • Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
    My B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering is from Cornell University My Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering is from the University of Pennsylvania
  • What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
    I am a professor and I teach and mentor students. I love this part of my work. I conduct research in nanocomposites materials which are being used in everything from improved materials for efficient electrical transmission to materials that help improve the efficiency of light emitting diodes.
  • What do you like best about being an engineer?
    Solving interesting technical problems and constantly learning new things about how things work (including materials).
  • Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
    I am proudest of a movie I helped produce called Molecules to the Max (www.molecularium.com) that helps everyone understand more about materials in a fun/animated format.

    I am proudest of my students who have gone on to make contributions to the field of materials science and engineering.

    I am proudest of how I have helped create an atmosphere at work that is encouraging and supportive of all.  

  • What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
    I failed my first qualifying exam for my Ph.D. It was then that I learned how in depth we need to understand things in order to make new contributions to engineering. I have met challenging personalities who hurt my feelings, but I have learned not to take things personally and to be true to the path that I feel is right.
  • Please tell us a little about your family.
    I have a husband and two children. My son is now at Dartmouth College and will graduate in 2018 and my daughter just started at Williams College and will graduate in 2010. My husband works for General Electric. We love to ski and hike and travel. Three years ago we climbed the Grand Teton together. Two years ago we went to South Africa. We are looking forward to planning our next adventure.
  • What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
    Short term - to launch a new program at Rensselaer called the Summer Arch. Our Sophomores will be required to spend the summer after their sophomore year on campus taking their first semester junior classes and will then spend the fall or spring semester on a professional development experience. This is a huge opportunity for us to create a unique and interactive summer semester and to provide students with key opportunities to advance their careers. Long term I plan to retire and volunteer in the area, most likely in two areas: conservation, and education.
  • What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
    My parents and my family overall.
  • What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
    Recognize that there are all kinds of engineers, and that many engineers go on to work in other fields, but the skills they learned in engineering are valuable wherever they go.
  • Any other stories or comments you would like to share with EngineerGirl visitors?
    I wanted to be in a field that created new things (so it never got boring) and helped solve some of the world's most pressing problems.
  • Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
    I am also a triathlete and just finished my first 1/2 ironman.
Latest Questions
  • Ethan , Goffstown, NH asked Linda Schadler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    Added Friday, June 3, 2016 at 8:34 AM

    Hello, I am a sophomore in high school, and I am doing a project on linking a passion to a potential job. I am really interested in finding a job that would allow me to work as an engineer at an archery factory. Would material engineering be good to pursue if I wanted to design the bows also? Is there a degree that you would recommend I go for so I don't have to spend all my time going for something I wouldn't need a lot. What would some advice to some one who is starting out his process. ...
    Related to Choosing a Degree, Materials, Preparation for College
    Answers 1
    Linda Schadler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Answered Friday, June 3, 2016 at 8:34 AM

    The design of a bow would use both mechanical engineering and materials engineering skills.   The materials engineer would be working to change the strength and stiffness and fatigue resistance (how many times you can string the bow before it ...

    Read More
  • Alamgir, Pakistan

    Added Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    I am chemical engineer and want to do MS in material sciences but I am confused. In the future, how much will this combination help me in terms of jobs and school? If I want to do job in the material sector, how will chemical engineering play a role in that? Do you think I am going on the right path?
    Answers 1
    Linda Schadler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Answered Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    A combined degree in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science is a strong one. Chemical Engineering tends to focusing on the processing of materials, while materials engineering teaches the relationships between processing, structure (atomic and ...

    Read More
  • Heyinn, San Jose

    Added Monday, July 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    Hi! I will be attending a university for b.s. degree in Materials Engineering. Because I am not certain about materials engineering, I'll be taking an introductory class. Is material engineering different from other types of engineering in any way? It appears to me that material engineering requires lots of abstract thinking and theories. Please tell me if I am wrong. (For example, what separates material science engineering from chemical engineering class?) The primary reason I chose material ...
    Answers 1
    Linda Schadler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Answered Monday, July 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    Many types of engineering fields impact improving the cleanliness of our air and water.   Civil engineers work on the big infrastructure that transports water and treats water.   Chemical engineers might develop new kinds of membranes to clean ...

    Read More
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