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Olberding Named New WiE Program Director

Hannah Olberding has been selected as the new director of the Tickle College’s Engineering’s  Women in Engineering Program.

Olberding arrives at UT after spending the last eight years at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., where she worked in various roles, including the last eight months as the Title IX Coordinator and Institutional Compliance officer.

Olberding is the second person to hold the role as WiE Director. She replaces Jalonda Thompson, who is now the Executive Director of Support Services & Director of TRIO Student Support Services at Mississippi State University.

“What excites me most about this opportunity is the chance to contribute to its foundation with my unique perspective and collaborate with students to create a program that fosters growth and creativity,” Olberding said. “Dean Mench wants it to become a nationally recognized program, and this could be a way to create something other schools can benchmark.”

Olberding received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and master’s degree in public administration at LMU. She is currently a Doctor of Philosophy candidate with a focus on education and social change at Bellarmine University.

“Hannah’s hiring in the college comes at a pivotal time as we plan new initiatives to sustain the Women in Engineering Program and launch it on a national scale,” said Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Jeremy Kirk. “Hannah’s extensive experience in higher education and rapport with students and colleagues will be one of the leading causes to success in this role.”

The WiE program strives to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for undergraduate and graduate female engineering students at UT. The program focuses on outreach and recruitment, community engagement, leadership development and professional development.

Along with the WiE ambassador team, the program is supported by the WiE Advisory Board and WiE LEAD, a collective of TCE women-centric student organizations that provide female student opportunities for leadership development, mentoring, and collaboration.

Olberding was inspired to apply for the job by her mother-in-law, Terry Brown Olberding, a retired mechanical engineer who graduated from UT with a degree in engineering and worked at Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory.

“She opened my eyes to the world of engineering and what women can accomplish in the field,” Olberding said. “I really want to make a difference in women experiencing the challenges of a male-dominated field. I want to make an impact in their lives.”

Olberding grew up in Wise, Va., and moved to Tennessee to attend LMU. She fell in love with the state and city of Knoxville and made it her permanent home. Once she became an admissions counselor, she realized higher education was her professional calling.

“I love working with undergraduate students, especially the age range 18-22, because it’s such a special time in their lives,” Olberding said. “I believe in college in general, the experience and development that students go through in that short period of time is an incredible journey.”

In her role as WiE Director, Olberding will develop strategic initiatives and lead efforts to promote women in engineering at UT. She will focus on recruiting and retaining a diverse and talented group of undergraduate and graduate women. Olberding will also mentor women-centric student organizations within the college.

“Hannah comes to us with a plethora of experience supporting student groups across all demographics,” Kirk said. “Coming from a family of engineers, she understands the specifics of engineering education and how to advocate for women in engineering.”

Olberding and her husband, Mark, reside in Knoxville. They are parents to their son, Aiden, and two dogs Max and Smokey.

In her free time, Olberding is a “big foodie” who loves trying new restaurants in the Knoxville area. She married into the “biggest Vols family on the planet.”

Being able to join the faculty of the college where her mother-in-law studied engineering years ago means a lot to Olberding. She wants to help more women achieve their dreams in the field.

“I am really excited to work with the students and staff on campus,” she said. “I’ve already met some incredible people, so I am eager to build more relationships with the students in the program and go from there.”


Rhiannon Potkey (865-974-0683,