Engineering Nerd Girls Receive $10,000 from Verizon Foundation
Karen Panetta, associate professor in
electrical and computer engineering, and members of the Nerd Girls
team receive $10,000 from Verizon Foundation's Cissy George, past
women's group president. (L to R): Jeff Hopwood, Steve
Witkowski, Miriam McLean, Cissy George, Karen Panetta, Heidi Parish,
(BS'08), Barghavi Govindarajan, (MS'10), Sadaf Qazi, (MS'09).
Photo credit: Rebekah Sokol for Tufts Daily.
Newly received funds from Verizon Foundation will help Tufts' Nerd
Girls to continue their engineering projects and educational outreach.
This fall, Cissy George, past president of Verizon Foundation's women's
group presented Karen Panetta, associate professor of electrical and computer
engineering, and the Nerd Girls with a check for $10,000.
The Nerd Girls, founded by Panetta in 2000, is a group of Tufts
engineers—both women and men—who work together to accomplish
tangible goals. Panetta and the Nerd Girls team work on several different
engineering projects ranging from working with capuchin "helper"
monkeys that assist the disabled to designing solar cars. Panetta said
that the funding from Verizon Foundation will help the Nerd Girls team
monitor the progress on their Thatcher Island project.
Panetta and the Nerd Girls worked with the Thatcher Island Association
to return power to one of two lighthouses located on the island off the
coast of Rockport, Mass. On June 27, 2007, the entire island was able to
go green with the help of the Nerd Girls, using only solar power to
generate the island's electricity needs, instead of relying on a badly
damaged and often-repaired 6,000-foot power cable that runs out from the
With the extra assistance from Verizon Foundation, the Nerd Girls can
create remote, wireless systems that will "monitor storm damage and
ensure that no unauthorized individuals land on the island during the off
season," said Panetta. "Monitors in the island houses will also
help us track the solar power performance of the equipment during different
Commenting on the grant award, Donna Cupelo, Verizon president of
Massachusetts and Rhode Island, said, "As a leader in telecommunications
and one of the largest private sector employers in Massachusetts, Verizon
understands the need to encourage young women to develop their math and
science skills and to explore the tremendous opportunities in the field
of engineering, which is so critical to our business, our industry, and
—Julia C. Keller is Communications Specialist for Tufts School
Read more about the Thatcher Island project:
Visit the Nerd Girls' website: