College Friend

Nancy Young Moore “I did very well when I transferred to UCLA because of the physics background I got at SMC.”

When Nancy Young Moore attended Santa Monica College, engineering wasn’t exactly a popular major, especially for women. It was the late 60s, and many students were more interested in liberal arts than sciences. “I was frequently the only woman in my classes,” says the founder of the UCLA Society of Women Engineers of her years at SMC and UCLA. But then, she has always had the tendency to go against the mainstream.

At a time when a California drought seemed as far away as the Sahara desert, Nancy was authoring reports on efficient ground and surface water use for the Rand Corporation. “People thought we were nuts then,” she says. “And now that’s what everyone is talking about.”

Nancy transferred from SMC in 1968 and moved on to UCLA’s School of Engineering for her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in water resources systems. Of SMC she remembers most the quality of the physics department. “The physics program was so outstanding that, when I went to UCLA, I was acing my classes in thermodynamics while other students who had started at UCLA were struggling,” she says. The engineering and physical sciences departments at SMC were equally impressed with Nancy’s performance and named her Woman of the Year in 1967.

“Engineering is a good career for women,” Nancy says, looking back at her own years as an engineer. “The math sciences teach good analytical skills. Not that writing and communication aren’t important,” she adds, “but the sciences give you a lot of flexibility careerwise.”

​Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.