Engineer Receives Highest Honor by National Society of Professional Engineers

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Stacey A. Ober
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Teresa Helmlinger Ratcliff, Ph.D., P.E., received the National Society of Professional Engineers's most prestigious award for professional engineers at the recent 2011 annual meeting held in Las Vegas.

The NSPE Award is the highest award presented to an individual by the Society and is given to an engineer who has made outstanding contributions to the engineering profession, the public welfare, or humankind. Previous recipients include former President Herbert Hoover, Dr. David B. Steinman, P.E., (founder of NSPE), and former Puerto Rico Governor Luis A. Ferre, P.E.

Helmlinger Ratcliff is the assistant vice chancellor for Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development at North Carolina State University, and the executive director of the Industrial Extension Service. She and her staff help small and medium-sized businesses improve quality, productivity, safety, environmental protection, and sustainability. She championed the initiative by which IES, as the North Carolina center for the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership, pledged to create $1 billion in benefits in a five-year period, and achieved the goal an entire year early.
Prior to her current position, Helmlinger Ratcliff gained experience in both the public and private sectors, including 20 years at Carolina Power and Light Company in various roles including district manager and division engineering manager. At CP&L, she rose to the position of Director of Commercial/Industrial Market Development in Raleigh, where she coordinated growth strategies, product management, and new product development for the entire utility.

In addition to her responsibilities at IES, Helmlinger Ratcliff has a gubernatorial appointment to the NC Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveyors, where she was the chairwoman. She was the vice chairwoman of the MEP National Advisory Board and is currently a member of the board of the Southern Technology Council, the National Association of Manufacturers' Manufacturing Institute Education Council, and the steering committee of the NC Chamber's Manufacturer's Council. 

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in engineering operations from NC State University, Helmlinger Ratcliff then earned an MBA from Duke University as a Fuqua Scholar followed by a doctorate in public administration from NC State University. She is a registered professional engineer in North Carolina. In 2003, Helmlinger Ratcliff became the first female president of NSPE in the Society's history, and is also a Fellow member of the Society. She is also the current president of the Professional Engineers of North Carolina Educational Foundation.

In addition to the NSPE Award, Helmlinger Ratcliff has also received numerous other awards including the National Society of Women Engineers Distinguished New Engineer, the Professional Engineers of North Carolina Young Engineer of the Year, and the NC State University Equity for Women Award. In 2004, she was featured in the book Changing Our World: The Stories of Women Engineers.

Additional Notes: 

The National Society of Professional Engineers is the national society of licensed professional engineers from all disciplines that promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and enhances the image and well-being of its members. Founded in 1934, NSPE serves more than 40,000 members and the public through 53 state and territorial societies and just over 400 chapters. For more information, please visit

EDITOR'S NOTE: High-resolution photos of Helmlinger Ratcliff and the award ceremony are available in digital format.