From founding a company to running a reactor to working as an architect, the opportunities available to those who major in engineering are wide-ranging, Dow Chemical production engineer Julie Bellfy told students during Agnes Irwin's celebration of National Engineers Week.
“There are so many things you can do — designing a new process, running a process, starting a business, sales, architecture — you really can’t go wrong. There are so many different directions you can go with an engineering degree.”
On Feb. 26, Bellfy and six other women engineers shared their stories during a panel discussion with Upper School students. The event was one of several ways National Engineering Week, Feb. 22-26, was observed on campus.
Throughout the week, Upper Schoolers participated in hands-on activities, including an advisory competition to construct the tallest free-standing structure from two 8.5x11" pieces of white paper and 30 inches of transparent tape; a bridge-building workshop; and a race to build the best balloon-powered car.
In Wednesday assembly, engineering students and STEM Club members quizzed classmates on engineering facts, and engineering teacher Richard Hoffman introduced students to some of the world’s greatest engineering feats and failures. “In the engineering process, redesign is very important,” Hoffman said, sharing with students photos from some of his class’s projects.
Lower School students also had the opportunity to engage in a hands-on introduction to engineering. In an after-school program with women from Villanova University's undergraduate Society of Women Engineers on Feb. 25, students in grades 1-4 participated in a series of design activities representing different engineering disciplines, then learned why these women chose their majors.
For Upper School, the celebration culminated in the panel discussion. Featured were Bellfy; Mary Roth, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Lafayette College; Lafayette engineering senior Alexandra Willey; Holly Golecki, Haverford School engineering teacher; Deena Ghoul, an engineer at Boeing; Jennifer Kinkead ’84, who studied engineering and now works as an architect; and Madeline Winter ’08, who studied mechanical engineering at Villanova and is now the Vice President of Operations at BioBots, a 3D bio-printing company.
The panel encouraged students to investigate multiple engineering disciplines, with Roth telling students that it’s not unusual to end up in a different area than the one they initially set out to study.
“That experimentation is a good thing,” Kinkead said. “I encourage you to not land on something right away — like engineering itself; you experiment. It’s a process of discovery.”
Photo captions, from top: Seven women engineers meet with students on Feb. 26; engineering students quiz classmates; Lower Schoolers participate in an engineering activity with Villanova students; Madeline Winter '08 speaks to students.