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Honors and Awards

Associate Dean Pamela McCauley Inducted into Her Second Hall of Fame

Pamela McCauley (right) hugs another person on stage at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony. The photo is taken from relatively far away, so the shadows of the heads of members are the crowd are visible. A screen behind McCauley reads "Pamela R. McCauley 2022 Oklahoma Hall of Fame Honoree" in white font on a red background.

By Raymond Jones

When Pamela McCauley joined the Wilson College of Textiles in 2020, she arrived with a history of recognitions that were not only significant but in some cases groundbreaking. For example, she was one of the first three Black women named a Fellow in the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers

Now, after nearly three years at NC State, her “win streak” is continuing. On February 3 McCauley was inducted into the “Black Engineer of the Year Award” Hall of Fame. This recognition, sponsored by the Career Communications Group, Inc., promotes minority achievement in STEM fields by sharing the success stories of engineers, technologists and scientists from diverse and multicultural backgrounds. 

McCauley serves an important dual role as Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor in the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management . She loves working at the Wilson College, which she describes as “fascinating, diverse and a virtual fountain of innovation.”

McCauley received her most recent honor at this year’s BEYA (Black Engineer of the Year Award) Metaquake Symposium in Washington, D.C. This conference enables novices and veterans alike to foster connections within the worlds of technology, business, education and government. 

Achievements featured in national magazines

Women of Color magazine has named McCauley one of its “Top 20 Women of the Year” and will feature her in an upcoming edition. The magazine will also be recognizing Women of the Year Award winners at the 2023 Women to Watch Summit. 

As if that media attention weren’t enough, CIO Women magazine will be highlighting McCauley as one of “The Most Influential Women Leaders to Watch in 2023.”

“It’s been a joyful career for me, and I believe all STEM professionals have great opportunities to make a positive impact on our global society.” 

McCauley is pleased these recognitions are drawing attention to Wilson College, because of the college’s strong emphasis on diversity. 

“I’ve been at engineering institutions throughout my career,” she says, “and I’ve never seen anything to match this school’s commitment to valuing all of its people.” 

McCauley joins Mickey Mantle in Oklahoma Hall of Fame

McCauley’s recognitions also include some that are not STEM-related. For example, she was recently inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, an honor reserved for Oklahomans who represent the state exceptionally well. She feels especially humbled by this honor, given the number of past recipients who are household names nationally.

Members of the Hall include entertainers dating back as far as Gene Autry but also including current headliners like Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood. The Hall also features a host of high profile athletes from Jim Thorpe to Mickey Mantle. 

Pamela McCauley gives her acceptance speech at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame ceremony. She stands on stage behind a clear podium and wears a silver formal gown and the Hall of Fame medal. A large image of the Hall of Fame medal is shown on a screen behind her.

The state of Oklahoma served as the McCauley family’s base of operations when her father, an Army drill sergeant, was stationed overseas. She went on to attend the University of Oklahoma for her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Upon earning her Ph.D. McCauley became the first Black woman in the state to earn a Ph.D. in engineering.  

While that’s a special point of pride, McCauley says she’s even more proud to have served as  an academic advisor and mentor to 10 other Black Ph.D. candidates. Each of those candidates went on to complete their doctoral degrees successfully in engineering and/or textiles. 

Evaluated health care systems in Malawi

To be sure, McCauley’s distinctions are not limited to trophies, plaques or media coverage. Prior to coming to NC State, for instance, she was named a Jefferson Science Fellow. In that capacity she was sent by the U.S. State Department to evaluate the healthcare delivery system in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. Her research aimed to identify opportunities for innovation in the service delivery process. 

She found that many of Malawi’s healthcare clinics were located in open air settings, sometimes with dozens if not hundreds of people patiently lined up for assistance. 

“Despite the austere conditions and limited resources,” she says, “I was inspired by the commitment of the healthcare workers.” 

A photo of a room in a health care center. Blue sheets hang from the cieling between two hospital beds and are knotted at the bottom to keep them from hitting the floor. At the edge of the photo, two people talk to each other next to a set of cabinets with medical supplies on top.
A photo from McCauley’s Jefferson Science Fellow trip to Malawi.

She’s never forgotten the image of clinicians weighing a newborn by hanging it from an old-fashioned produce scale by its diaper. 

“They try to get the important information they need by any means necessary,” she says. “In this case, they gently held their hands underneath the scale to ensure the baby’s safety. Now, that’s commitment!”  

STEM is vital to improving quality of life

After returning from Africa, McCauley was invited to speak at United Nations Headquarters, where she described her many initiatives as a Jefferson Science Fellow. 

“I told them about the remarkable things I saw,” she remembers. “And I explained how STEM principles can be applied to make people’s lives better, or even save lives, in virtually any type of environment.”

Reflecting upon her current position, McCauley considers herself lucky to be doing what she loves. 

“I hope to inspire others to join me on this STEM journey,” she says. “It’s been a joyful career for me, and I believe all STEM professionals have great opportunities to make a positive impact on our global society.”