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Hull Leads The Way For Women In Technology

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Thursday, April 10, 2003

When associate professor Maria Hull began her teaching career at Hudson Valley Community College in 1982, her drafting-class students used nothing more sophisticated than a drawing board and a pencil. There were no computers in the classrooms.

Needless to say, Hudson Valley's first full-time female technology teacher has seen significant changes in 21 years of teaching most of the drafting class offered by the college.

"When we first implemented computers for drafting classes in 1984, the system was so slow that, after the last student filed in, it would take 20 minutes for the software to load," said Hull with a laugh. "The student would go have breakfast and then come back. And they could draw their lines on the screen in any color as long as it was green."

Now, of course, students have a full palette of colors to choose from and programs load instantaneously. Hudson Valley's students have benefited greatly from these technological advances: The first year that computers were used, drafting students completed 10 drawings by midterm. They now do about 30 in that same timeframe.

"Technology is constantly changing and upgrading," Hull said. "That means that we're always learning, too."

After graduating from SUNY Oneonta in 1975 with an education degree, Hull was prepared to teach grades K-12. Four years went by, though, and there were no K-12 jobs to be had. Hull ended up working on an assembly line at Green Island's Ford Motors.

While she enjoyed the work, she liked even more that Ford Motors was willing to pay for college classes that related to her job. So Hull enrolled in Hudson Valley's Industrial Technology program and earned her associate's degree in just 18 months.

At the same time she was graduating from Hudson Valley, four technology professors were retiring or moving to other departments.

"The timing worked out perfectly," Hull said. "A number of my male instructors said, ‘You need to apply for a job.' They said I'd fit in well with the rest of the faculty."

They were right: Hull got the job and quickly earned the respect of her fellow teachers, who at the time were all males. Over the last two decades, she has shared her knowledge and passion for technology with hundreds of Hudson Valley's students.

Now, in addition to her full-time teaching duties, she is part of a Hudson Valley task force that is seeking to land more students in non-traditional programs and careers. Specifically, the task force is hoping more females will try their hands at technology.

"Women are more detail-oriented than men," Hull said. "They are perfect for the technology field, but a lot of them know nothing about it. We\'re trying to get the word out."

It can't hurt that the message is being delivered by a woman who has succeeded in technology.