Amy Fleischer, PhD, ’91 ME, ’96 MSME

Professor and Department Chair, Mechanical Engineering, Villanova University

 

Amy Fleischer, ’91 ME

Q: What has been your career path since graduation from Villanova?

A: After graduating with my BSME, I went to work for Air Products and Chemicals.  I worked in their Machinery engineering division, determining the right equipment needed to build their large air separation plants, and then doing the plant installations and commissioning. I traveled a lot and really enjoyed the work. At this time I also returned to Villanova part-time to pursue my MSME degree.  As I worked on my master’s degree, I decided that I would like to stay in academics and pursue a PhD. I applied for and received an NSF graduate research fellowship, which allowed me the flexibility to leave my job at Air Products and return to school full-time. The NSF fellowship gave me the flexibility to attend a number of different schools for my PhD, and after weighing my options, I decided to attend the University of Minnesota, which at the time was widely considered to be the best in the world for heat transfer. There, I was able to work with the renowned Dr. Richard Goldstein and Dr. Ernst Eckert, and the education I received from them was well worth the time in the frozen hinterlands. With the PhD complete, I looked for positions in academia at a place where both research and teaching were valued.  It turned out that Villanova was recruiting in my field at the same time, and I returned to my alma mater as a faculty member. I have now been here for 16 years, and have enjoyed every minute of it.

Amy Fleischer, PhD, ’91 ME, ’96 MSME

Q: Tell us about your current position:

A: I am the Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering, a position I have held since August 2015. In this role, I am lucky enough to work with 22 amazing faculty members, around 350 undergraduates, 50 MS students and almost 50 PhD students. The job is incredibly diverse, and touches every aspect of all our programs. Working on so many different things, from the undergraduate curriculum to faculty development, makes each day a true adventure. I also run my own research lab, with a number of active research grants, and enjoy working with my students to develop new knowledge at the leading edges of mechanical engineering.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A: I really enjoy working every day with our Villanova students, and helping them to be successful.  Nothing makes me happier than to see a student reach new heights. In my own career, several things particularly stand out. These include being the first female faculty member in Villanova’s College of Engineering to attain the level of full professor; being appointed department chair, which has led to so many exciting new challenges; and leading the Villanova University steering committee in establishing the Anne W. McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership, which will help so many Villanova students, faculty and alumni achieve great things.

Q: How did your Villanova education contribute to your success?

A: My Villanova education taught me the importance of being part of a community. Together we all achieve more than any of us can achieve on our own. Working as a community has been paramount to my success. By working with my students and my faculty colleagues, I find so much inspiration and so many ideas.

Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew then (as a college student or new graduate)?

A: Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  No one is judging you. Asking questions is the best way to learn, to show interest and to move ahead. Be curious and inquisitive. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself because you are afraid to fail. If everything comes easily, then you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. Take some risks.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to the next generation of female engineers?

A: Don’t be afraid to change your path. You need to be flexible, while staying true to yourself and your changing and evolving interests. By continuing to challenge yourself, you will find the joy in your work.