Karen Thole to receive the ASME Edwin F. Church Medal


Karen Thole, professor and department head of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Penn State, will be honored with the 2016 Edwin F. Church Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The award was established in 1972 to recognize eminent service in increasing the value, importance and attractiveness of mechanical engineering education. ASME will present Thole with the award at the ASME Mechanical Engineering Education Leadership Summit, March 16-19.

Thole was selected for her role in the creation and development of the Engineering Ambassadors Network, an innovative program that provides undergraduate students with professional skills. Engineering Ambassadors also serves as a highly effective mechanism for recruiting women and racially underrepresented students into engineering. The Engineering Ambassadors is a vibrant organization at Penn State that has been emulated at numerous universities across the U.S. through the support of a National Science Foundation grant received by Thole.

“It has been an honor to work with so many talented students at Penn State and beyond whose efforts as Engineering Ambassadors have led to the recruitment of a diverse group of future engineers,” said Thole. “I would like to dedicate the Church Award to the Engineering Ambassadors.”

Thole has been department head at Penn State since 2006. She has received significant recognition for her research, teaching and mentoring. She was named a White House Champion of Change in 2011, and in 2014 she received the Society of Women Engineers Distinguished Engineering Educator Award. In 2015 Thole received the ASME George Westinghouse Gold Medal for her research in power generation.

Thole received her bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.


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Shea Bracken


Karen Thole

Karen Thole, professor and department head of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Penn State



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519