Female Engineers From CDM Smith and City of Newark Inspire Students at Robert Treat Academy STEMTalks

When it comes to careers, STEM fields have long been considered a boys’ club. But thanks to organizations like JerseySTEM, that’s beginning to change.

Engineers Christine Ballard and Carolyn Loudermilk from CDM Smith and Skylar Reed from the City of Newark, New Jersey, visited the Robert Treat Academy campuses in Newark April 18 and 19 and met with the middle school students who recently participated in JerseySTEM’s eight-week spring program held onsite.

CDM Smith, which is a global engineering and construction company, funded the program. Their generous $6,640 grant was generated from a T-shirt design contest they sponsored for their 2022 summer interns. The contest winner, Megha Sawhney, a civil engineering student from Purdue University, requested the proceeds from the T-shirt sales to the company employees go to JerseySTEM.

“I chose the organization,” she said, “because they recognize the gender gap in the STEM field and are making efforts to close it.”

At the STEMTalks on the Stephen N. Adubato campus and the Jackie Robinson campus on April 18 and 19 respectively, Lauriene Tschang, a corporate program partnership manager from JerseySTEM, emceed and introduced Ballard, Principal Engineer-Client Service Leader, Loudermilk, Project Engineer, and Reed, Environmental Engineer, to the students. 

All three shared their career journeys and discussed the two ongoing projects they are working on together to deliver upgraded drinking water infrastructure to the residents of Newark. They also fielded questions ranging from “What did you have to learn in school to get to where you are today?” to “What did they like best about their jobs?”. Afterwards, the engineers watched and provided useful feedback on the final projects the students recently completed. On both days, several groups showcased the apps they created in Shark Tank-like presentations. 

“The students showed us what they learned during the eight weeks of coding and answered questions the engineers asked,” said Tschang. “Overall, it was a meaningful event for everyone involved.”

“We are grateful to work with CDM Smith and JerseySTEM to advance our students’ interest and exposure to STEM-related studies,” said Marcelino Trillo, principal at the Adubato campus. “They have provided us with critical resources, including access to their exceptional engineers who have engaged our students with fun and collaborative programs.” CDM Smith was pleased to participate in the events. “Early exposure to STEM topics gives young students more career options to consider as they progress through high school and college,” said Ballard.

“JerseySTEM and their STEMTalks enlighten students on how technology contributes to a better world. I’m delighted we had this opportunity to collaborate.”

At first glance, it might seem like these women are breaking barriers by becoming engineers. But when you look closer at their careers, you’ll see that they’ve been breaking barriers for a long time—and they’re just getting started!

Donations and support from sponsors like CDM Smith help JerseySTEM transform the lives of middle school girls in underrepresented communities. We look forward to hosting more transformative programs like these in the future. Thank you for your support!