Liz Bartell thought she would major in Spanish or another of the liberal arts when she arrived at the all-women Smith College four years ago. But she had always liked math, so, at her mother's urging, she took an introductory course in engineering her first semester.

"It was insanely hard, and I didn't do well, but I loved it," Bartell said. "It was so challenging I just couldn't get enough."

Last month, the Houston native was among the first 20 graduates of the first engineering program at a women's

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