Alumna Laura Odell Receives Society of Women Engineers’ WE20 Spark Award

Alumna Laura Odell was recently honored with the WE20 Spark Award by the Society of Women Engineers. The award recognizes individuals who have “contributed to the advancement of women by mentoring those around them.” 

Laura earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1986 from the University of Minnesota. She currently serves as an assistant director in the Information Technology and Systems Division (ITSD) of the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Systems and Analyses Center. 

In IDA’s news release covering the award news, Laura emphasizes the importance of an advocate who can support a newer entrant in a field, someone who can provide clarity and guidance. She says, “Everyone needs an advocate to offer up their name when opportunities arise, a coach to help them understand what they don’t learn in textbooks and classrooms, and a mentor to understand their vision for themselves and guide them through the progression of their career aspirations.”

Commending Laura on receiving the SWE honor in the release, Margaret Myers, ITSD director says, “I am so proud of Laura for her contributions to advancing women professionals at IDA. She’s taken the initiative to support these individuals and their development while creating an inclusive and collaborative environment where they thrive.”

SWE typically recognizes awardees by hosting a SWE Awards Banquet. However, to keep all guests safe in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Laura and other award recipients will be recognized during a virtual awards ceremony at SWE’s WE20 Virtual Conference and Career Fair, November 2–13, 2020. Recipients of all WE20 awards can be found in the SWE news Alltogether.