Nora Brew, P.E., Walden Environmental Engineering (Walden) Vice President, cohosted a presentation to female college and high school students interested in pursuing studies in engineering. The W SPiCE (Women’s Summer Program in Computer/Engineering) initiative was spearheaded by Phil Coniglio, founder of the Co-op Program at the Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science at Hofstra University.
W SPiCE is a program that champions the goal of connecting female students with companies in computer science and engineering. Through W SPiCE, participants gain access to valuable resources like mentoring opportunities and workshops. They also get useful contacts in organizations to which they would not otherwise have access. Such connections could help them find jobs when they graduate. Equally important, the program helps participants build leadership, communication, and relationship-building skills while exposing them to women who are successfully working in the engineering field.
Most of the students are in their first year at Hofstra. While they are already studying engineering, they have yet to choose a specialty such as civil, mechanical, electrical, or environmental. Programs like W SPiCE introduce them to various businesses so they can get a broad, real-world sense of what engineers do. The hope is that they will then be better informed when deciding where they would like to concentrate their studies.
Typically, W SPiCE begins with a short winter session during which time students visit companies in person to talk directly with engineers and learn about what they do on a day-to-day basis. However, with the pandemic, this year’s session was held virtually via Zoom.
Brew led the forum for Walden, but several other of Walden’s female employees participated. Kristin Scroope, Erica Johnston, Kerri Ann Wright, Rebecca Stouges, and Lathika Varanasi all spoke to the students in 15-minute intervals and answered questions. Each one of Walden’s speakers has valuable, specialized expertise that they bring to the firm, from permitting for Part 360 rules to testing for Brownfields, research and development, and many others.
In addition to the obvious—Professional Engineers—Walden also employs environmental scientists, professional geologists, and PhDs, all of whom are experts in their respective fields. “I think that the unique backgrounds and credentials of our staff give the students ideas about engineers that they probably would not otherwise get,” said Brew. “And when it comes to developing the next generation of female engineers, Walden proves that women can succeed as engineers and scientists while making a difference in the communities where we live and work.”
Walden President and Founder, Joe Heaney, also a P.E., ended the session by talking to the students about how they could best position themselves for a successful job hunt when they graduate. “I’m proud of all that Walden does to support engineering students.” Heaney continued, “There is a worrying shortage of engineers in the U.S. So, anything that we can do to help get students excited about having a career in engineering is extremely important.”
Participants will have the opportunity to talk to other engineering firms as the virtual winter session will be all week, with a different company being featured each day.