Dietsche is a former chair of the Mid-Michigan Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, who named her Chemical Engineer of the Year in 2010.

Dr. Laura J. Dietsche, research & development (R&D) fellow at Dow Chemical Company, is poised to continue ABET’s legacy of innovation as the 2024-2025 president-elect, to be installed this fall. With a rich background in industry and a passion for STEM education, she brings a unique perspective to advancing the organization’s mission.

While in college, Dietsche explored several different STEM majors before settling on chemical engineering as she was finishing up her junior year of undergraduate studies. This switch required her to transfer from the University of California at Irvine to the University of California at Berkeley for her senior year. In just four quarters, she completed all her engineering courses, achieving the distinction of being named the top chemical engineering graduate for 1981.

Dietsche was invited to speak at Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) Mumbai.

Dietsche spent 7 years as a process development engineer with Dow before returning to graduate school. After receiving her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Berkeley, she returned to Dow as a research engineer.

Finding ABET

Dietsche became an ABET program evaluator in 1999 as a way to provide industrial input into the engineering education process, as well as a means to “scratch that academic itch.” She was a member of the engineering accreditation commission (EAC) from 2008 until 2016, including three years on the EAC executive committee. She has served on the Board of Delegates since 2018, where she is currently acting as secretary until she assumes office as 2024-2025 ABET president-elect. During her time on both the EAC and the Board of Delegates, Dietsche has been part of several major efforts at ABET.

While on the EAC Executive Committee, Dietsche served as chair on the materials committee. There, she helped create the harmonized accreditation documents now used across all four commissions. She also took part in writing the first version of a separate set of master’s level criteria and self-study templates.

Dietsche during her gap year in Finland.

Dietsche acknowledges that one of the greatest personal benefits of her many years of volunteering with ABET is the engagement with a large network of fellow volunteers across numerous STEM disciplines. “It’s provided a much broader outlook on STEM education and careers than I would have ever obtained otherwise, and has resulted in some great connections and friendships,” she said.

2025-2026 ABET President

Dietsche is committed to continue moving ABET forward in preparing future problem solvers for the evolving workforce when she takes office as 2024-2025 ABET president-elect and throughout her term thereafter. She has three main focuses:

  • To enhance ABET’s reputation and relations with institutions and programs
  • To educate industry leaders and professionals on the importance of ABET-accreditation
  • To expand ABET accreditation into micro-credentials and continuing education.

Dietsche wants institutions and programs who are going through the ABET accreditation process to recognize the value that ABET brings in ensuring they are providing a quality program for their students.

Dietsche as team chair on a site visit.

Dietsche considers industry to be the primary consumer of STEM higher education and its graduates. “Therefore, it behooves industry, as it behooves me as an industry professional, to keep that process strong, in order to maintain this high-quality product, i.e. the graduates that that my company will be looking at hiring,” she explained. “It also behooves me as a professional to maintain the strength and good reputation of my chosen profession.”

Dietsche is excited to continue the expansion of professional offerings, which she thinks is essential to career development activities in the STEM fields due to the rapid change in technology. “There needs to be this mechanism to increase the value, awareness of and confidence in these credentialed courses by both the participants and their associated stakeholders, such as an employer,” she said.

Outside of work

Dietsche with her father, who was a civil engineer.

Dietsche’s journey into the world of STEM is deeply rooted in her family upbringing and personal experiences, which have shaped both her professional path and her outlook on life.

Growing up with a father who was a former civil engineer, Dietsche found inspiration and guidance in his exemplary character. While he didn’t push her toward STEM fields, he served as a role model not only professionally but also as a compassionate and service-minded individual. His active involvement in the community and church instilled in her a deep sense of volunteerism, influencing her participation in organizations like ABET and other volunteer activities.

Dietsche’s love for travel and cultural exploration was ignited during her high school years when her family began hosting foreign exchange students. Her adventurous spirit led her to spend a transformative year as an exchange student in Finland. This experience sparked her curiosity about the world and instilled in her a love for discovering historical sites and immersing herself in different cultures. “I’m always amazed at the diverse world we live in, as well as the common humanity that we all share,” she remarked, reflecting on her travel experiences.

Whether Dietsche is traveling or at home, she loves outside activities of all kinds. She finds an activity no matter the weather whether she’s hiking or biking, cross-country skiing or scuba diving.

Dietsche, left, with her family in Scotland.