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Engineers Spotlight: Meredith Coad Advocates for Girls and Women in STEM

02/19/21 08:28 AM

photo of Meredith Coad

WASHINGTON - Meredith Coad, environmental engineer, is representing Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Washington for Engineers Week. She serves in the Environmental Business Line at NAVFAC Washington’s Core in Washington D.C.

Coad has been aboard NAVFAC Washington for two years and is focused on environmental compliance, with most of her work deriving from a specific environmental regulation. Her project portfolio ranges from hazardous waste management to storm water pollution prevention, to air emissions testing and reporting. NAVFAC Washington’s environmental team is responsible for a variety of naval installations across the expansive National Capital Region, offering opportunities to work in many locations.

“The days I enjoy most are when I am in the field getting hands-on experience,” Coad said. “I am constantly learning something new, but never more so than when I see something done firsthand.”

As a young child, Coad loved building blocks and frequently had the urge to take stuff apart, like her Fisher Price radio, and put them back together. Even though she was fascinated with building things and taking them apart, becoming an engineer was not always a path she saw herself on.

“In middle and high school, I lost interest in math. I believed, like many young girls, that I was ‘just not a math person’ despite mostly good grades. I graduated high school with this mindset, thinking I would go to college for some type of liberal arts degree.”

Shorty after she graduated from high school, Coad experienced health problems that sidelined her from school for a few years. When she was able to think about college again, she stumbled across an article from a magazine published by the Society of Women Engineers.

“The article was a compilation of studies relating to women and girls’ participation in STEM over recent years, and it struck a major chord with me. It dawned on me that I was a common statistic, and my disinterest in math was a product of outside influence and lack of representation. This realization led me down a rabbit hole of research, which eventually ended in my decision to study engineering.”

Coad went on to study environmental engineering at George Mason University, graduating in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and landing her position almost immediately thereafter with NAVFAC Washington.

“Engineering is unique in that there are many different fields to choose from. At our best, engineers are dynamic problem solvers, innovators, and collaborators who constantly strive toward improvement. I might be biased, but I think that is what makes a career in engineering one of the best decisions one can make!”

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