Audrey Pool O’Neal, a lecturer in mechanical and aerospace engineering and former senior manager with General Motors, has been named director of the Women in Engineering program (WE@UCLA) at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Through academic reinforcement, mentorship, team-building, research experiences, industry internships, and personal and professional development activities, WE@UCLA will provide a unique environment for female students to thrive in engineering and computer science.

“At the undergraduate level, women who attend UCLA Engineering will be part of an active learning community, with the sole focus of ensuring their academic and professional success,” said Jayathi Murthy, dean of UCLA Engineering. “Upon graduation, these women will join a network of more experienced female engineers who can continue to foster a supportive and collaborative environment for new engineers and computer scientists.”

In February, Joanne Maguire, a UCLA alumna and former aerospace executive, funded a new endowment to provide scholarships to members of the UCLA chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. And the Samueli Foundation recently announced a $20 million gift to support expanding the diversity of undergraduate students in engineering and computer science. The Samueli Foundation Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship Fund will provide financial support and a research or industry internship early in the student’s undergraduate program to connect academic studies to real-world experiences.

“Engineering and computer science are demanding, exciting and rewarding careers, but they also pose unique challenges to women, both academically and socially,” O’Neal said. “My job is to make sure women understand those challenges and have the skills to meet them successfully.”

O’Neal received her Ph.D. and master’s degrees from UCLA in mechanical engineering. Her research is in the area of multifunctional nanocomposite materials.

In addition to her academic duties, O’Neal most recently served as associate director of Undergraduate Programs for the UCLA Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity, which focuses on research, academic performance and retention strategies for UCLA students who are traditionally underrepresented in engineering and computer science.