Math and science are strong subjects for me, so I thought engineering would be a great career.
In my junior year of high school, I took the Young Engineers Program (YEP) that Kennametal generously offered at its facility near my school in Latrobe, PA. YEP classes met weekly at Kennametal, where we learned many of the skills needed to be an engineer.
Students were separated into groups based on different skills that each team member had. I was the drafter of my team. Each team had to research, build, and make a prototype product that passed three “gates” Kennametal uses in their new product development process.
That same semester, I attended a career fair at my local community college (Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC)) and listened to several local companies discuss what they did and what tuition assistance they offered. The Kennametal representative said they offered tuition assistance as well as scholarships for current employees.
The following week when YEP students went on a field trip to the Solon, Ohio, facility, I asked that same Kennametal rep at lunch about tuition assistance. The rep brought up the idea that Kennametal might consider funding some college expenses for engineering students in YEP. She took the idea back to Kennametal for discussion, and we kept in touch during those months.
Toward the end of YEP, I was told Kennametal would fund everything from the classes to the books for my college education. The plan was for me to start attending college in my senior year of high school by splitting the day between high school classes and college classes at WCCC.
I graduated the YEP program in Spring 2014 at the end of my junior year. That summer before my senior year of high school, I met with the dean and a professor of the Business and Industry Center at WCCC. We toured the WCCC campus, I met my advisor, and classes were scheduled for the start of my first year of college in the fall.
WCCC opened its Advanced Technology Center in the fall of 2014 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included major companies, colleges, and the CEO of Kennametal.
In the Fall of 2014, I was injured in a car accident and not able to attend high school and college classes for almost two months. I was home-schooled by my high school teachers and emailed my college professors regularly. I was afraid attending college was going to be too much to handle as I healed from the accident. The concussion I suffered affected my vision, causing headaches and difficulty focusing. After months of eye therapy, I was able to resume classes at high school and WCCC. My teachers were very helpful and understanding, and I finished my senior year of high school and first year of college.
I’m currently in my second spring semester at WCCC and continuing my studies toward an associate’s degree in engineering. After finishing at WCCC, I plan to pursue a mechanical engineering degree and hope to work at Kennametal or similar company in the future.
I recently volunteered at the WCCC Advanced Technology Center’s Manufacturing Day, which hosts high school girls for a day and introduces them to different manufacturing skills and engineering career options since there are not a lot of women in manufacturing today.
I strongly encourage intelligent and creative young women to consider going into the engineering/manufacturing field. There are many different opportunities available, and the field needs the diversity of female engineers in the workforce.