We gathered six SEH experts to discuss all things STEM, including: why they chose a career in STEM, the value they feel it brings to our communities, and advice they would give to young women seeking to enter the field.
I grew up on a farm and designing came naturally, needing to figure something out or fix something. On the farm, we built things we needed, and had a side business building grain bins and foundations. Building things for five to six years as I grew up was a springboard for my career. Farming provided learning opportunities for innovation and design in the environment and water. Early exposure for me transitioned right into my career. Loving the outdoors and the environment helps!
I was "good" in math and needed a career. Someone suggested engineering to me. In addition, at a pivotal time in my life, I had a part-time job working for the City of St. Cloud. I worked in their engineering department and thought I could put my experience to good use.
Melanie G. Niday
Doing well in science and math in high school and hearing about the growing environmental issues in the news during the 1980s.
I've always been interested in math and science, so I started college as a biomedical engineering major. Once I realized physics was far superior to biology, (laughs) I found a home in the civil engineering department. I was fascinated by the large scale applications (buildings specifically). Initially, I was interested in biomedical engineering because of its positive impact on the lives of others, so it was an easy transition to civil engineering—which seeks to better our infrastructure for future generations.
I've always enjoyed being creative. I had a high school drafting teacher who really motivated my curiosity and recognized my talents.
I don't recall an exact moment when I knew STEM was the right field for me, but growing up I was always a tinkerer. At any given time, there would be some type of K'nex or Lego structure or model being constructed in my parent's living room. In addition to that, math and science were always my favorite subjects. I participated in MATHCOUNTS and Science Olympiad events in middle school and junior high, which only heightened my passion for the discipline.
Related Content: SEH Recognized for Advancing Women in the Transportation Industry
I'm motivated by working toward building a sustainable end product that is safe and that the client is proud of.
The needs in our society are constantly changing, and we have to adapt in order to keep up. Working with such intelligent people here at SEH keeps that flame lit to continue to bring innovative ideas to the table to better serve our clients and communities.
People that are passionate in what they do and helping others really motivates me. As well as people who are committed to building a better world for all of us and serving others. That’s the key for me.
I value the really smart and creative people I get to work with, and I love serving our appreciative clients and helping solve their problems that result in an improvement for their community. And, having fun and challenging projects to work on doesn’t hurt!
I enjoy keeping up with the evolving technology and all of the impressive things we can accomplish with it.
Melanie G. Niday
Seeing the need to provide technical services to navigate regulations based on science to all my clients, I especially enjoy working with those in local government that don't have the technical resources within their own organizations.
My Dad. He influenced me by being an innovator and being able to build anything and everything. I was also mentored early in my career by material scientist Nandu Paruvacat. He approached everything by asking questions and taught me the way you help someone is by helping them learn.
Dick Moore, former SEH project manager and my eleventh grade math teacher.
Melanie G. Niday
Elaine Hatzenbuhler, my college laboratory instructor. She helped me see that you can obtain respect amongst peers (male and female) and still be yourself.
My parents. They have been small business owners for 37 years and taught me great work ethic to reach my goals.
First and foremost, my parents for always supporting me and my choice to pursue a career in STEM, despite the fact it currently has me 1,100 miles away from home. And second, all the women actively pursuing their passions and achieving their goals in the STEM fields, committed to one day erasing the norm of this being a "man's world."
Combining passion and skill for STEM is an excellent approach for excelling in the workplace. Together, the women at SEH are actively making a difference and finding the best solutions to positively impact the world around us.
At SEH, we are all committed to sparking inspiration and cultivating mentorships for the next generation of women innovators and leaders in our communities, so together, we can build a better world for all of us.