Before Julia M. Ross became dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech; before she became engineering dean at University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and before she pursed her Ph.D. and bachelor’s in chemical engineering, she was a girl inspired by astronaut Sally Ride.
“I remember reading in magazines about her and her mission, and I thought that was the coolest thing,” Ross said. “I had a bit of an adventurous spirit as a teenager.”
With the influence of Ride and good grades in math and science classes, Ross decided to study chemical engineering at Purdue University. In truth, she said, at the time she wasn’t entirely sure what engineering was, but she knew she liked her chemistry class better than physics.
It all clicked for Ross during her co-op at Rochester, New York-based chemical company Eastman Kodak Company.
“That’s where I fell in love with the type of work engineers do: the complex problems, the problem solving aspects, and with bioengineering,” Ross said.