I am about to embark on my third semester participating in the STEM mentorship program. During my first semester, the program was under the STEM Collaborative Center. Today, it is run under the Engineering Student Success Center, a part of the School of Engineering. This is a great opportunity for students going into the STEM field to be matched with a mentor who is a local professional. These mentors are from companies such as Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) or the Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL).
In my first semester, I matched with an electrical engineer from the Directed Energy Directorate at AFRL. He worked in Laser Effects and his main job was being the bridge between the scientists and the businessmen in his group. He graduated from New Mexico Tech and did his master’s in electrical engineering at UNM. For that reason, he really gave me a good idea of what to expect from the ECE department.
I was still a chemical engineer when I met him. That was the time I was considering switching my major to electrical engineering. I also had just been offered an internship position at AFRL and he gave me a good idea of how their interns in the past contributed to his program. We met once a week and each time we met was super helpful. Sometimes we talked about his group’s research or concepts from the EE curriculum that helps him in his everyday work. Other times I got help on my resume or applying for scholarships.
I had a really good experience with my first mentor. I even met with him a little bit over the summer. I decided to continue to participate in the program. My mentor agreed that we could be matched with new people and still keep in contact. For the fall semester, I was matched with a mentor who works at SNL. She has a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering with an interest in laser diagnostics and combustion.
She is really great to meet with both on and off base as I continue my internship with AFRL. I was just about to go to a physics conference to present my summer research. She gave me great pointers on how to present and pitch myself at conferences. She also gave me tips on how to navigate the Society of Women Engineers conference I had later in the semester as SNL would send her to go recruit at that event.
I got to learn a lot about her research and how her undergraduate experience, being in an engineering sorority, really shaped her professional network today. She also could give a really unique perspective of being a mother and a scientist and how she is able to balance both her work and personal lives.
I am excited to continue with her in the spring semester as well as participate in another program with ESS as an extension of STEM mentoring: peer mentoring.
I hope you start looking forward to the extracurricular activities to do on campus with the new semester starting soon!