Women in STEM

A collaborative post by Ms. Rangel, Ms. Cook and & Ms. Rangel’s Structural Design class

Last Thursday, Ms. Cook and Ms. Rangel invited a team of young engineers to share their college and work experiences with the APH community. Our guests were Samantha Eaton, a Structural Engineer at edmAlex Moore, a Mechanical/Aerospace engineer with Pratt & Whitney, and Erin Dixson, a Biomedical Engineer with Boston Scientific. After enjoying lunch with Ms. Cook and Ms. Rangel in the Bistro, Samantha, Alex, and Erin joined Ms. Rangel’s structural design class. After touring the displays from the design class, the students had some one-on-one time with the engineer of their choice. Nathalie F. and Alex discussed working with Python to analyze data from engine tests, “which was cool because she was talking about a lot of the same stuff that I learned about in my data science class last semester,” giving Nathalie insight into the different ways she can use what she’s learned in college and beyond. MaryGrace K. and Samantha talked about the college experience at WPI. According to G, “Meeting the engineers was extremely helpful in easing my anxiety about going into engineering for college. Erin for instance talked to me specifically about going into college where I will be vastly outnumbered by my male classmates, and how that’ll play out in the beginning. Having all three of them share their college experience and their current work life also let me know how my future career might play out, especially with how helpful my coops will be.

After class, the engineers went straight to the all-school assembly where they served on a panel answering questions about engineering and college. We learned about projects that they’re currently working on and exciting things that have happened in their careers (Erin already has 2 patents!). Samantha, Alex, and Erin all met at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). An interesting discovery was that they all decided to go to WPI after spending a night on campus getting to know the school. When asked what their favorite material to work with was, Erin responded by showing an esophageal stent that was wrapped in nitinol. Nitinol is a metal alloy that is flexible and can return to its original shape after being bent without forming any kinks or other deformations, so it is great to use in an esophagus or other places in the body that need to move or bend. The stent was passed around and students enjoyed twisting it and watching it go right back to its original shape.

We rounded out the afternoon with an engineering experience for the 9th and 10th graders where they had to build a paper airplane. But, there’s a catch! The airplane had to be able to carry extra weight. Congratulations to the airplane design winners whose airplane traveled the farthest: Mica TSarah B, and Charlotte B. The 11th and 12th graders had a chance for a longer visit with Erin to pick her brain about the college experience. “I really appreciated the opportunity to meet three female engineers who had experience and advice to share about college and their careers. As an aspiring engineer, I feel more assured in my decision to go into the field, especially as a woman, after speaking with the panelists,” says Addie M.