Suzanna Long

Missouri S&T’s Suzanna Long, who earned a master’s degree in history from UMSL in 1988, was one of two recipients of ASEM’s highest honor in 2015. (Image courtesy Sam O’Keefe)

Pursuing an advanced degree in history might seem like an academic detour to some science- and technology-minded undergraduates. But for Suzanna Long, who just received one of the highest honors in the engineering management field, it was a natural next step years ago.

“I was someone that had always had a diverse set of interests,” said Long, who earned an MA in history from the University of Missouri–St. Louis in 1988 and is now an associate professor and interim chair of engineering management and systems engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo. “I was interested not only in how things work but also why things work.”

That lifelong curiosity has led her down a wide-ranging career path that most recently included being named an American Society of Engineering Management Fellow in November. One of just two individuals across the nation recognized as such in 2015, Long was shocked to hear her name announced at an annual ASEM gathering last fall.

“Apparently my jaw dropped,” she said. “It was a tremendous honor.”

A member of the Missouri S&T faculty since 2008, Long’s current research and teaching focuses on systems considered critical to society – energy and transportation, for instance. But her first job after earning her MA at UMSL was as a scientific and electronic records specialist for the federal government. Looking back, the lessons she learned under the care of the UMSL Department of History have informed her work in deep ways throughout her career.

“That always held true, that training in how to ask questions and how to communicate research results efficiently and succinctly,” Long said. “Really it was doing that graduate degree in history that most taught me to tell a story in an engaging way. I had learned from these master storytellers. They would have their audiences just enraptured.”

She remembers benefiting greatly from UMSL faculty members including Professor of History Louis Gerteis, the department’s current chair.

“It was really working with him that shifted my focus a bit,” said Long, who ended up exploring the role of African American women’s clubs around the turn of the 20th century for her thesis research.

“As much as I love STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), that was calling me more,” she said, adding that her mother was a strong example to her of active service in the community growing up. “I felt a tremendous connection in terms of the way service organizations can make immense contributions – these women made a tremendous difference in the lives of others.”

After her stint with the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., Long re-entered the world of higher education, serving as director of continuing education at Pittsburg State University and then as coordinator of the transportation-logistics program at Missouri Southern State University. Now she’s back at her undergraduate alma mater, Missouri S&T, where she also earned her PhD in 2007.

ASEM, which speaks for the profession of engineering management around the world, each year chooses its fellows through a highly selective process, with a maximum of five elected annually. The top honor recognizes significant achievement in the field of engineering management as well as distinguished service and contributions to the society.

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