Female Engineers Share Their Wisdom with Female High School Students at HPHS Acdemy of Engineering and Green Technology

Female Engineers Share Their Wisdom with Female High School Students at HPHS Acdemy of Engineering and Green Technology

Published on Mar 17, 2016


Five talented and successful engineers, who just happen to be women, recently paid a visit to a group of female high school students who someday may follow in their footsteps.

Part of National Engineers Week, February 20-26, the engineers’ visit to the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology (AEGT)in Hartford came about when the school wanted to do something special for their female students.

CBIA’s Education and Workforce Partnership designed and coordinated the Academy’s first “Girl Day” program, which brought female engineers from CBIA member companies to the school to have lunch with some of the students interested in pursuing engineering and related careers.

Representing five different engineering disciplines, the women talked about what they do each day, what they enjoy about their work, their college experience, and why engineering is a great choice for women.

Julianne Chatman, a project engineer for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, told the girls that getting through engineering school takes three things:

·         Discipline –block out distractions, especially parties and boys.

·         Perseverance – don’t give up. It will be difficult, but stay with it.

·         Dedication – lose the hap-hazard attitude about your studies.

Nicole Mason, a technology analyst for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, told the girls that she loves her job. “I have an artistic soul and I find it rewarding to analyze a process, design a solution, and then create it all on my own. I find the job to be satisfying and stimulating; and I don’t get bored.”

She also told the girls that internships can change your life, because she started as an intern at DOT, where she was introduced to programming.

One of the students, Genesis, a senior at the Academy, agreed. She served as a DOT intern last summer, and said the experience “was amazing. It opened my eyes and exposed me to civil engineering, and now I’m thinking about majoring in that at college.”

Erin Sullivan, an environment, health and safety manager for Pratt & Whitney, started college by going to a community college for two years and then transferring to a four year school. “I was worried about the cost of college and the two-plus-two program was a good solution,” she told the girls.

“There is such a variety of things you can do in the engineering field,” she continued. “You can be in the field doing hands-on work or in an office designing; you can manage engineers or work with external consultants. Only 14% of engineers are women, and companies want diversity, so they will be looking for you.”

Adele Falkner, a CADD technician at AI Engineers, said that because she came from a large family, she knew that college wasn’t in her future. She went to a technical high school and learned mechanical drawing, “back in the days when we used pencils,” she laughed.

However, she urged all the girls to go to college. Adele now uses AutoCAD at her job and recommended that the girls get experience using CAD. (Academy students learn CAD in 10th grade in their Introduction to Engineering class, and continue to use it in their other engineering classes.)

“I love what I do,” Adele continued. “I love the versatility of my job and I am creating something.”

Ilona Prosol, an electrical engineer and project manager at BVH Integrated Services, talked to the girls about college. “If you like math, you can get through engineering school. You will have some courses you hate, but you just have to get through them. It is hard work. You just have to be consistent. Now I have a job I love. I get goosebumps!”

All five women clearly love what they do and their enthusiasm was evident to the girls. The final question to the women was, “How do you feel about yourself and your job?” They left the girls with these final messages:

Ilona: “I am proud when I see my building being built. I’m contributing to society. I do what I love and I am fulfilled.”

Julianne: “I make a difference. When I go out in the field and look at a big project that I helped design, it’s huge.”

Erin: “I am proud and I feel smart. My job is a challenge, but when I finish a project it is a really good feeling. I don’t think other jobs would give me that.”

Nicole: “I love the feeling I get when I work on a tough piece of code and then get through it. I feel smart and good about myself.”

Adele: “I love being part of a team and the versatility of the job. I was part of a team that worked in an office designing a railing. When I was in Hartford recently I noticed a soaring structure supposed to simulate the masts and sails of a ship. Then as I followed it down to sidewalk level, I realized it was the railing project I was involved with. I laughed to myself, but then I thought, ‘I had a hand in this.’ It felt really good to know I was a part of a project that was for the safety of people using the pedestrian bridge.”

Laura, a senior at the Academy, nodded frequently during the presentations. “It was great to see all these women out there doing what I like to do. Usually I feel like I’m weird because I’m the only one who likes working on computers. This makes me feel like what I want is not just a dream, but it can be accomplished.”

One of the Academy’s engineering teachers, Dave Mangus, had been asking for a program like this for several years. ’“Our girls need role models. I think bringing the women engineers into the building to talk with our students really helped the girls.”

Students listen intently as engineers speak

This program was designed and coordinated by CBIA’s Education and Workforce Partnership, which works with Connecticut companies to support the development of a skilled, knowledgeable workforce in Connecticut. United Technologies Corp. is the corporate sponsor of the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology. The Academy of Engineering and Green Technology is a member of the NAF network of career-themed high schools.

Started in 2001 as a joint effort between the National Society of Professional Engineers, IBM, and National Engineers Week Foundation, “Girl Day” marks the 15th year of introducing more than a million girls and young women to engineering.

‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering’ is a national movement that shows girls how creative and collaborative engineering is and how engineers are changing our world.

Click here for program brochure.

Leave a Reply