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WSU Everett event spotlights women in engineering

panelists

EVERETT, Wash. – Nov. 4, 2016 – On Thursday, WSU North Puget Sound at Everett held its first Women in Engineering networking event. Engineers from Boeing, SpaceX, Vulcan Aerospace and Puget Sound Energy engaged in a panel discussion before students spent time networking with employers from the region.

Christina Jordan, a junior in WSU Everett’s mechanical engineering program, said that she attended the networking event to meet with potential employers.

“Even though we come from different places, we all encounter the same challenges and obstacles,” Jordan said. The panelists discussed many of the challenges they have faced in their careers and shared with students their most important pieces of advice on how to succeed in the field.

Sarah Davis, an electrical engineer at Puget Sound Energy, shared that a mistake students make is graduating without any kind of community involvement, internship or research experience. “The summers before you graduate you want to make sure you try your best to get an internship,” Davis said.

The event is one of a series of opportunities for engineering students at WSU Everett to engage with the industry. Students engage with science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) industry professionals in class, through student organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, WSU Everett Engineering Club (which built the international award-winning Mars rover) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Club, and through a multitude of hands-on projects that are sponsored by local businesses.

“Women are underrepresented in STEM fields, and sometimes it’s as simple as students not knowing there are real opportunities, not seeing other women succeeding in those fields, or not getting the mentorship they need to take the first steps toward a career in STEM,” said Paul Pitre, chancellor of WSU Everett. “It’s important to expose our students to women engineers who are not only in the workforce, but who are excelling and who are leaders in their chosen field.”

crystal-donner
Crystal Donner delivers the event’s keynote address

The event featured a keynote address by Crystal Donner, president and CEO of Perteet, who also serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Economic Alliance Snohomish County and on the WSU Everett Advisory Council.

“I stand in front of you today because of a journey of perseverance and happenstance. Perseverance is steadfast in spite of the difficulty and delay of initiating success. And happenstance is things that happen to you by chance or by luck,” Donner told student.

Donner was on the verge of dropping out of college but said her summer internship helped her fall in love with engineering. She said, “that was key for me to stay in engineering.”

Cassie Lee, director of aerospace applications at Vulcan Inc., advised students to take advantage of their status as students. “You have so much more access to information, and everyone in the industry remembers what it was like to be a student and cares about helping the next generation of engineers” Lee said.

Dozens of students from WSU, Everett Community College, Edmonds Community College and local high schools attended the event.

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Jeanne Harsgbarger (right), manager of system planning and protection at Snohomish PUD, speaks with students