SWE Fellow Catherine F. Pieronek, associate dean for academic affairs and director of the Women’s Engineering Program at the University of Notre Dame, passed away April 9 at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. She was 52.
A native of Detroit, Pieronek graduated from Notre Dame in 1984 and earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1987. She worked as a senior systems engineer at TRW, where she helped develop both the Data Relay System on NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Chandra satellite.
She returned to Notre Dame in 1992 to pursue a law degree and to serve as editor-in-chief of the Journal of College and University Law. She earned her law degree in 1995 and soon after became director of alumni relations for the Notre Dame Law School and editor of its quarterly publication. Interested in gender-based equity issues, she became a nationally recognized expert in Title IX issues, writing and lecturing widely on the topic.
In 2002, Pieronek joined Notre Dame’s College of Engineering, serving as its associate dean and establishing the women’s engineering program to increase the retention rate of women from the first through sophomore years.
Last year Pieronek was named a fellow of the Society of Women Engineers, cited for having had a lasting and positive impact on engineering education, and for illuminating public discourse on gender equity in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
On Dec. 9, 2006, in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Pieronek married Charles Shedlak, who survives. Other survivors include her mother, Joann Pieronek, her sister Patty (Ian) Frost, brother Tom (Erin) Pieronek, and her nieces and nephews Madelyn, Maxwell, Daniel, Brendan, Nathan, Craig and Megan.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Pieronek Family Scholarship Fund at the University of Notre Dame.
Original post courtesy Michael O. Garvey, Notre Dame News.