Harrisburg engineering students win Women in Engineering Design Competition

Joy Gitonga and Maryam Abdelaal

Joy Gitonga, left, and Maryam Abdelaal took top honors in Penn State Altoona’s Women in Engineering Design Competition last fall.

Credit: Maryam Abdelaal

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Penn State Harrisburg students Maryam Abdelaal and Joy Gitonga finished first in Penn State Altoona’s Women in Engineering Design Competition sponsored by the Rail Transportation Engineering (RTE) program. Abdelaal and Gitonga each received a $1,500 scholarship.

The competition, held in November 2021, had three rounds, starting with an online quiz that included questions about rail transportation engineering. The second round featured a research design portion, from which winners advanced to the final round, where they were tasked with solving a hands-on railway yard design and operations problem. Five teams presented to and fielded questions from a judge's panel that included faculty from Penn State Altoona and industry representatives.

The duo expressed gratitude for the opportunity, which they said was a valuable learning experience that could shape their future careers. Abdelaal and Gitonga credited faculty members Fariborz Tavangarian, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State Harrisburg, and Faeze Ghofrani, assistant teaching professor of rail transportation engineering at Penn State Altoona, for mentoring them during the competition.