We gathered six female experts at SEH to discuss all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) – including why they chose a career in STEM, the value it brings to our communities, and advice they have for young women seeking to enter the field.
My competitiveness! When I was in elementary school, I raced to get my math assignments done before my classmates. I didn’t realize at the time, but my competitiveness provided me a foundation in math that continued throughout my academic life and now into an amazing career.
I was "good" in math and needed a career. Someone suggested engineering to me. Also, 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
I've always done well in science and math in high school, coupled with learning about the growing environmental issues during the 1980s.
I've always enjoyed being creative. I had a high school drafting teacher who motivated my curiosity and recognized my talents.
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 a smooth transition to civil engineering—which seeks to better our infrastructure for future generations.
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, I constructed some type of K'NEX or LEGO structure or model 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.
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What motivates me is 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 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.
I’m motivated by continually learning something new – new technologies, new ways to communicate with people and unique solutions that can address problems. I like feeling like there’s always a chance for something new to occur in my workday.
I value the brilliant 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 governments that don't have the technical resources within their organizations.
When I was in high school, I had terrific teachers who never questioned my desire to do more math and science courses. They were always available to help me when I struggled and provided encouragement.
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 a 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, to 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 impact the world around us positively.
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.