A Life’s Work: Woman of Influence Odesma Dalrymple, PhD

Odesma Dalrymple, PhD, sees engineering as a catalyst for change. Dalrymple — associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of San Diego Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering — uses her passion for the field to create learning opportunities, community partnerships and hands-on experiences that foster socio-conscious discussions about social justice issues. On March 29, Dalrymple was named a Woman of Influence in Engineering by the San Diego Business Journal.

As a woman of color in a male-dominated field, Dalrymple sees the award as an opportunity to legitimize the impact different perspectives can have on engineering, and the ways those perspectives can change how socio-conscious innovations manifest.

“I think it is important to demonstrate that someone who has my identities, someone who defines their engineering in the ways I define my engineering, that [they are] legitimate and I think that’s what these awards and recognitions do,” says Dalrymple. “It helps legitimize the things that are not seen as the dominant ways of doing things.”

It is recognizing these non-dominant perspectives that drives Dalrymple in her work as an educator and a community member. Instrumental in developing connections between the engineering field and the community, Dalrymple has created partnerships with external organizations like the San Diego Blind Community Center while fostering on-campus initiatives like the Engineering Exchange for Social Justice. She is motivated to ensure engineering is a diverse and inclusive field that represents all the communities it serves. For Dalrymple, this starts with bringing new voices to the profession.

“To the many whose identities are not well represented at the table in the engineering profession, you are needed. Your perspectives, your experiences, your assets are needed in order for us to truly be able to create just, eco-friendly, socio-friendly, sustainable solutions that really address the needs of all,” she says. “You need to be at the table. You need to be here taking up space. You need to be here bringing your brilliance, bringing your potential, bringing your passion.”

With a career focused on inspiring the next generation of engineering leaders, Dalrymple has found her life’s mission — a dedication to ensuring that everyone has access to a field that can change the world.

Allyson Meyer ’16 (BA), ’21 (MBA)