My story as a woman in STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) began many years ago when I graduated from college with a degree in environmental engineering.
For my first engineering job, I worked with a group of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, looking for ways to use the extra heat created by nuclear power plants. The heat comes in the form of hot water, which is stored in cooling ponds before it’s released into nearby rivers, so that it doesn’t endanger the local aquatic life.
To make good use of the excess (or waste) heat, the researchers in my group wanted to try farming a type of tropical fish called tilapia in the warmer water. To prove their concept would work, they decided to grow tilapia in cages floating in the lab’s sewage treatment pond. The idea was that the pond’s warm waters would simulate power plant waste heat and the algae growing in the pond would serve as food for the fish.
My job every morning was to row a small boat out to the middle of the pond, pull up the cages full of fish, take each fish out of its cage and then weigh and measure it to see how well it was growing.
My work badge badge soared in a perfect arc up into the air and splashed down into the murky water, never to be seen again.
One memorable day, as I completed the measurements and reared back to toss the cage into the pond, my work badge caught on a wet, slimy rope attached to a float. The badge soared in a perfect arc up into the air and splashed down into the murky water, never to be seen again.
Writing about STEM
Seven years later, I made an abrupt leap from engineering to editing a technical magazine. Almost overnight, I went from preparing project management charts to writing and copyediting articles on lasers and fiber optics – still another type of STEM career.
Since then I’ve had the pleasure of writing about a number of women in STEM. Here are just some of their stories:
- Gear Pioneer: Kate Gleason was way ahead of her time
- Women in the Lead: Smart Cities
- Women in Robotics: Challenges and Progress
- Women to play an increasing role in manufacturing industry
- GMU professor’s ‘Nanoparticle Net’ may detect early cancer, Lyme disease
- Environmental Problem Solver Leslie Guth
- Fiber Optics Expert Suzanne R. Nagel
- Tunable Laser Inventor Mary Spaeth
- Flex Fuel Pioneer Roberta J. Nichols
- Environmental Engineering: Career of the 90s
- Motherhood and Engineering
- Women in Lasers
Click here for a free downloadable ebook on Women in STEM careers.