STERLING, Va.–Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) partnered with the non-profit foundation, STEM for Her, to host a panel of female engineers at their NOVA Loudoun Campus speaking to high school junior and senior girls, April 9.
The day started with an introduction by NOVA’s Dean of Natural and Applied Sciences Division, Barbara Canfield, who highlighted female trail blazers in STEM careers including actress Hedy Lamarr, who helped develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes at the beginning of World War II, and went on as a film star and “pin-up girl”.
“So if you think you can’t be a glamor girl and be in science…wrong,” said Canfield.
Canfield also underscored the accomplishments of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, who popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.
“I’d like to think that any one of you here today can have that kind of accomplishment, and when somebody 20 years from now stands up in front of you and introduces a program, they can use your name as an example of a woman leading the way in the forefront of technology,” Canfield concluded.
Monica DeAngelo, Director of Utilities Procurement at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Headquarters, sat on the panel where she spoke about her career path and what she loves most about her job.
DeAngelo has worked as a consultant and a federal employee, and in her current role she is responsible for the creation and integration of a centralized utility procurement program to more efficiently and effectively purchase electricity, natural gas, water and wastewater. In less than six months, DeAngelo turned an unfunded priority into a $2 million program charged with saving 5% of the Department of the Navy’s annual purchased commodities bill by 2019.
Other panelists included a senior cybersecurity engineer from Capital One, an implementation manager and an associate training consultant. The panelists shared their experiences as females working in Science, Technology, Energy and Math (STEM) career fields and answered questions from the audience.
Dr. Marian McKee, the Stem for Her Chair and head of Global Operational Development Services at BioReliance, moderated the panel and encouraged the young students to be inquisitive and have fun.
“Have fun, enjoy the day, ask questions, and hopefully we’ll inspire you to learn a little bit more about tech, about STEM, and about some of the opportunities,” said McKee. “What everything is telling us, all the indicators, is that the fastest growing fields and the predicted growth in jobs are all in the technology industry. So our goal today is to keep you excited, make you excited if you’re not already excited, to be part of that workforce.”
Several students took McKee up on her advice and asked DeAngelo about how different STEM fields apply to careers in the Navy.
“I’m very proud to support the Department of the Navy. You think traditionally about the U.S. Navy being ships and submarines…[but] there’s a shore requirement, there are a lot of engineers that have to enable our Sailors and Marines to go fight the good fight and defend our country in many ways,” Said DeAngelo.
“The shore platform requires cyber jobs, it requires construction battalions to make sure that we have infrastructure in place. [There are] a lot of different science, technology and engineering positions that I would never have known had I not been afforded the opportunity to go to the navy. Keep your mind open to every possibility and you will be pleasantly surprised,” She went on to explain.
After the panel, the teens headed to different breakout sessions that included presentations on building drones for wildlife conservation, unwinding your DNA, creating data analytics and the fundamentals of game design. The conference wrapped up with a presentation on the future of women in technology by a representative from the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
The event was part of the Tech gIRL (In Real Life) conferences put on by NVCC that are taking place at different NVCC campuses throughout Virginia to encourage young girls to pursue STEM careers.
Stem for Her promotes education to create awareness, excitement, and opportunities among girls and young women to pursue successful STEM-related careers.
Louise Peabody, Stem for Her’s Program Director who worked to arrange the event, challenged the students to “continue the journey,” noting the last item on the agenda.