Lucy C. Morse, UCF engineering associate professor emerita, was honored for her lifetime of achievement in engineering management education -– a notable distinction for someone who began her engineering career in her 50s.

Morse, who retired from UCF’s full-time faculty in 2007, is chair of the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the City of Winter Park and teaches at UCF part-time.

An expert in engineering technology and distance learning who has consulted on all seven continents, Morse accepted the Bernard R. Sarchet Award from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) at their recent international meeting. The 12,000-member society honored her for exemplary service and contributions to the engineering management discipline. She is one of only two ASEE fellows from UCF.

In 1987, Morse became the first woman from UCF’s College of Engineering to earn a doctorate degree when she received her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering. Since then, she has won several university and professional awards, served on the faculty senate, worked on editorial boards of engineering journals, served as a member and leader of engineering societies, and has authored or contributed to hundreds of articles and referenced speaking engagements.

She is the co-author of a Prentice Hall engineering management textbook, “Managing Engineering and Technology,” which is used in classrooms worldwide and translated into two languages.

Morse also is well known as the project manager of two distance learning video series, “Beyond Chalk: Teaching with Technology” and “Reach Out and Teach: Designing Distance Education,” that were aired nationally on PBS.

Her pioneering spirit compelled her to take a three-year hiatus from teaching in 1990 to be the first person from UCF to work at the National Science Foundation. Her job was to recruit more women and minorities into engineering.

Even so, Morse says her lifetime achievement award comes as a surprise, considering she entered the workforce in the early 1960s armed with a mathematics degree. She worked for a company in Massachusetts developing software to design oil refineries.

At the time, she says, it was a job, not a career. She left that position after five years to raise a family, but children didn’t stop her from working outside the home. The tireless mother of three volunteered and managed community organizations such as the Junior League in Boston.

After years of community leadership, Morse, who moved to Central Florida in 1978, attended a party in Winter Park where she had a conversation that led to a life-changing career move.

“The person said I should talk to someone in industrial engineering at UCF. I did and realized that I loved the field. Becoming an industrial engineer was my professional calling.”

Despite her contributions to the cause of attracting more women to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, the majority of students in the disciplines are men. At UCF, the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s student body is 17 percent female, consistent with the national average. But Morse thinks that change should happen in pre-college classrooms.

“What girls really need is the right K-12 teachers to inspire them and steer them towards math and science,” Morse said. “It’s not that girls aren’t wired for math and engineering by nature. The problem is definitely environmental.”

— CECS —