A seasoned research leader and corporate executive, Sophie Vandebroek has been appointed as the School of Engineering inaugural visiting scholar for the 2019-20 academic year.
Vandebroek most recently served as vice president of emerging technology partnerships at IBM and as chief operating officer of IBM Research. Previously, she served for a decade as the chief technology officer of Xerox, leading Xerox’s research labs globally, including the renowned PARC.
As the first visiting scholar for the School of Engineering, Vandebroek’s primary focus will be to engage engineering students and peers from across the Institute on the school’s outreach and diversity activities.
In this regard, throughout her career Vandebroek has been an extraordinary champion for creating inclusive organizations, and has mentored students and professionals on how to be exceptional innovators while maintaining work-life balance. At Xerox, she was the corporate champion for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees and also served as champion for black women employees. For her diversity efforts, Vandebroek has been the recipient of several awards. In 2004, the Xerox Women’s Alliance extended her the “Positive Difference Award,” and in 2011 the non-profit organization “Out & Equal” Workplace Advocates celebrated her as their Ally Champion for Workplace Equality. In 2016, the Xerox employee resource groups honored Vandebroek with their Inaugural Lifetime Diversity Leadership Award.
“We are thrilled to have Sophie on board as our inaugural visiting scholar,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering. “Her extensive background in engineering and innovation, coupled with her expertise in creating inclusive organizations, will enable us to evolve initiatives and continue to foster a culture of inclusivity — which is so fundamentally important to our school and our community.”
During her time on campus, Vandebroek will guide and participate in a variety of activities including mentoring students, giving lectures in leadership and innovation, and helping to advance diversity efforts in the school, such as working with the Office of Engineering Outreach Programs.
“Over the years I have become convinced that creating and nurturing inclusive organizations is critical to attracting the very best people and cultivating a culture where innovation thrives,” Vandebroek says. “I am delighted to see the positive focus MIT’s School of Engineering has on this topic, and I’m very much looking forward to being a part of the extraordinary MIT community.”
Vandebroek is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Institute (IEEE) and holds 14 U.S. patents. She is a director of IDEXX Laboratories and serves as trustee of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and the Museum of Science, Boston. Previously she served on the advisory council of the dean of engineering at Cornell University, and was a trustee of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Not a stranger to MIT, Vandebroek has been an active member of the School of Engineering’s Dean’s Advisory Council for the past decade.
Vandebroek was born in Belgium, where she received a master’s degree in electro-mechanical engineering from KU Leuven. Her PhD in electrical engineering is from Cornell University.