Category: Student Stories

2019 SYP Story Contest

Thank you to everyone who shared their SYP story with us for the 2019 SYP Story Contest. This is always a tough decision but we do enjoy hearing about so many great memories! Here are our winning entries that will be featured in the 2020 SYP Catalog!

Congratulations to Hailey G. for being our winner for the 2019 SYP Story Contest, Middle School level.

Here is Hailey’s story: 
“My name is Hailey and I was extremely excited to go to Junior Women in Engineering (JWIE) sponsored by ITC Holdings because I didn’t know what field of engineering I want to pursue a career in. JWIE showed me insight into my future career options. This experience let me meet other crazy smart girls with the same interests. Getting to design prosthetic legs, building gliders, and making ice cream taught me about just a few of the many fields of engineering. I even got to learn about engineering off campus when we toured Quincy Mine, the wastewater treatment plant, and more.  JWIE also allowed me to experience college life. Staying in the dorms, eating in the dining hall, and having class in actual classrooms and touring labs. Making fast food runs, attending the variety show, attending the block party, and going to Walmart were just a few of the many evening college life experiences. Spending time with other like-minded girls, and with what I learned at JWIE I am now more certain about my future and want to be either an electrical or computer engineer. I think that everyone should experience SYP before college. SYP is an excellent opportunity to be able to experience Michigan Tech and see some of the amazing opportunities that it has to offer. Experiencing what life has to offer after completing high school as a middle schooler will help me make smarter decisions about my future higher education. I really hope I can attend SYP next year!”

Congratulations to Sarah H. for being our winner for the 2019 SYP Story Contest, High School level.

Here is Sarah’s story: 
“There was just something about the whole experience I can hardly describe with words. I met so many wonderful, intelligent people, I got a glimpse of the incredible opportunities the Michigan Tech campus has to offer, and I feel that for once in my life I finally know what I want to do with my life. I want to go out and explore every corner of the world, like we did on all the excursions every evening; I now know that I have the capability to do just that during my time at college with study abroad programs. I want to work with my hands, just like we did blacksmithing and casting metal; I can easily get a grip on some hands-on work by majoring in mechanical engineering technologies, a major that dabbles in a bit of everything I love. I want to keep improving, to get better at being myself, so that I can be more prepared for the future. I think this experience was one of the first steps in that process. I had more fun in two weeks than I would have spending my summer at home. If I had to just pick one favorite part, I’d choose the whole thing! So for anyone even considering a program like this, do it! No one will experience it the same, but it’s guaranteed to be a great time.”

 


Devin’s Story from SYP!

At the end of each summer we ask students to share with us what attending Summer Youth Programs meant to them in the form of a story contest, these stories never disappoint! Our 2018 middle school level winner shares her story below.

“My name is Devin and SYP has taught me so much. I learned how to be a strong and independent person, how to make the world a better place. I got to experience college living firsthand, and have fun while doing it all. In Engineering 101 we learned about so many different things that come into play in everyday lives without people even realizing. Everything was hands on and taught us how to think creatively, like the time we designed prosthetic legs out of recycled materials in the Bio-Medical lesson. SYP was nothing close to a regular summer camp, but that’s what made it so special. It was days packed full of learning, amazing food, new friends, and a few Walmart runs all mixed into one unforgettable experience. Michigan Tech has always been my dream college. It was so inspiring to learn about science and engineering from instructors of this amazing school. I learned so much about future career paths and can’t wait to learn even more. I hope in the future there will be more and more female engineers that I will grow to work with and learn from. My experience at camp was absolutely amazing, and I hope I can come back next year.” – Devin O., 2018 SYP participant

We love reading stories like Devin’s and hearing that students are not only learning about careers, but building confidence and independence in themselves and their ability to succeed in college. We also hope that Devin comes back this summer to learn even more and work on her own path to becoming a successful engineer.


Meet Nathalie Osborn: SYP and Michigan Tech Alumna

Nathalie Osborn ’95

We love hearing back from those who are alumni of both Michigan Tech and Summer Youth Programs. Whether you attended in 2012 or 1985, we want to hear from you! Please share your story with us!

From tomboy attending the Women in Engineering Program (WIE) in the 80s, to presenting as a guest speaker for the 2018 WIE attendees, this energized leader, coach, director and co-author is sure leave a positive impact on everyone she meets. Here is Natalie’s story.

Hometown: I grew up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan which is a university town. My dad was a college professor at Central Michigan University (CMU), so I was familiar with university life and my mom volunteered in schools but stayed at home.

Siblings: I am the oldest of three, with one brother and one sister.

Childhood Hobbies: We always went to CMU games, and my family was very active. We participated in cross country skiing, and I played softball and ran cross country. I also did enjoy reading a lot. In grade school, I always loved reading the biographies about people’s life and adventures, like Amelia Earhart and Teddy Roosevelt.

Favorite subject in School: Math, because it always had right answers. I also liked science. My high school physics professor was one of my favorite teachers. My school also had a vocational training program, so I had the opportunity to take architectural drafting and electrical wiring. I really loved the style of learning by doing.

Role models: My grandfather and I were super close and I could talk to him about anything. He was hands-on and a techy person, and he taught me many things. I was a tomboy growing up and he embraced that and encouraged me to learn. Even at a young age I remember him telling me “I could be anything, have anything, or do anything I wanted.” He really was a great role model for me, and I am not sure I would have been as confident going into engineering without his support.

How did you learn about WIE and why did you attend? My father found out about the Women in Engineering Program and he knew I liked math and science so he encouraged me to attend. I thought why not! I will say I didn’t know how far north it was going to be! I remember that it was a great summer. I went to the program but we also took time to explore the UP. I remember hiking, seeing waterfalls, and it was just a great chance to see the beauty of the UP.

What do you recall about your week at WIE? The whole experience, especially being on a college campus, staying in the dorms, and eating in the dining hall helped me to see what the college experience would be like. I remember being excited to get to know women from other schools with the same interests. It was such a fun and energetic environment and a chance to explore all engineering disciplines and learn in a hands-on way.

College: I attended a 2+2 engineering program with Michigan Tech and Central Michigan University for mechanical engineering. I went to CMU from 1990-92, maybe because the distance from home to Michigan Tech did scare me a bit. The 2+2 program was great. We had about 15-20 people in that program and most transferred to Michigan Tech after the first few years. We took all the pre-engineering courses together so we became close. I recall heading up to Michigan Tech with three others from the program piled into a car, to check out campus.

Once I did get to Michigan Tech and I started classes, I remember wishing I would have come up here for all four years! My favorite memory at Michigan Tech was winter carnival. I remember that one group had a life size search and rescue scene, with an ambulance and all! The atmosphere of that carnival, all the people engineering statues together, building and have fun. I love how this school embraces winter.

What are some milestones or great moments in your career you’d like to share? My first job was at Automotive Perception and a few other Michigan Tech grads were working there too. It was a job where we traveled the country and went into auto plants and installed laser cameras and windshields on cars. What I think is unique about this job is that I am still friends with a lot of the people I worked with and it overall was a unique experience. I also worked with Ford and helped with the hydrogen fuel cell in a car they were unleashing at an auto show in 2001. Then, I went into the energy industry and worked on the California Solar Initiative with the California Public Utilities Commission to help launch that program. It was a huge project and I feel grateful to have been a part of it. I am currently the Director of Smart Grid Initiatives at NextEnery Center, a nonprofit in Detroit.

Michigan Tech did a great job preparing me to be an adaptable and versatile engineer. I went into mechanical engineering but have been able to have flexibility in my roles through that field.

You are the co-author of a book. What is it about and what was that experience like? I am the co-author of “Ignite Your Leadership: Proven Tools for Leaders to Energize Teams, Fuel Momentum, and Accelerate Results.” I always thought it would be fun to write a book and wrote a chapter for this book. In the book, I use engineering terms to showcase how I power myself, the “kW” of leadership – know who you are, what you want, and why you want it. I was also shocked and humbled that the book made the bestseller list in US and Canada.

You came back to Michigan Tech as a guest speaker during the 2018 WIE etiquette dinner. What was that experience like? I really loved it and welcome the opportunity again. It was amazing to come full circle and talk to a group of young women who are learning about engineering programs. They are in a great place with so many paths in front of them. I enjoyed crafting a message talking to them about how an engineering degree is great to get, but even if you don’t pursue that path, you can power your life however you want. I am very fortunate for all the opportunities I have had in life both based off choices and encouragement from others.


Words of Wisdom from a WIE Alumna

We recently received a surprise message from a Women in Engineering (WIE) alumna, Margaret O’Neil, who attended one of our first years of this program. In her message, she recalled coming to the program at a young age and how it solidified her decision to become an automotive engineer. We just had to know more about her career and life; here is more of her story.

WIE Alumna, Margaret O’Neill

Question: Where are you from? How far did you have to travel to attend WIE?

Answer: At the time I traveled from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (which is near Detroit) to attend the camp.  

Q: You said in your email that WIE solidified your decision to pursue automotive engineering. What do you remember from that week?

A: I remember being excited about being able to test and feel materials, the hands-on aspects to working with things and beginning to understand how they work—Playing around with the pieces and learning as I went.

I always liked playing around and learning how things worked, and I was good at it. Growing up, I was the youngest of seven kids, with my older siblings mostly moved out of the house. So if things broke or didn’t work in the house, I ended up being the one to fix it. Not sure how I figured it out, but I even fixed the lawn mower once. I attribute my path to the WIE program, as it was my real first chance to try engineering out.  

Q: What about automotive engineering hooked you? What do you love most about your field?

A: When I first went to Marquette University [in Milwaukee, WI], it was to become biomedical engineer— I wanted to work with ergonomics.  I wasn’t good at 3D side of it, but electronics I understood, like how things moved and flowed.

For example: when looking at a car, I explained it just like a big body. Being able to see electrons and how they move and systems go together was the best thing about going into automotive.  

Q: Did you take any special classes or steps in high school to prepare?

A: I did, I took five semesters of biology, chemistry class, and all the math I could, except for calculus (not sure why!). I remember I didn’t need that many credits my senior year and had a job doing cancer research at Marygrove College for a few hours a day.

I also worked at a gas station pumping gas and had a job parking cars. Whatever there was to do with cars, I guess I was there.

Q: Do you have any role models or mentors?

A: I struggle to find one in my life, but perhaps my mother. She ran the household while my father worked at Ford Motor Company and she kept us all going. Also my brother, as he always had a car in the driveway and was rebuilding them and let me watch. When I graduated, only 4 out of 186 girls in my high school class were planning to go into engineering. Now, I do a lot of speaking about females and non traditional careers and encouraging them into automotive in career tech and other schools.

Q: What surprised you the most about about your field and career over the years?

A: I rolled well with the technology changes over the years, and even started my own computer company building hardware, software and networks. I basically design projects and others execute them.  I also have completed lots of training over the years.

Q: Any other words of wisdom you want shared with future engineers?

A: Don’t go into something just for money, or prestige: really see yourself doing it for 50 years. If you have fun when working, it won’t seem like a job. That’s why I haven’t retired!


Thank You Letters

We received many thank you letters from our Summer Youth Program students who joined us over the summer. Here are a few of the highlights:

I came into this program looking for a final answer as to if I should pursue engineering or not. The engineering program at my school is awful, so I came here to get an idea of what real engineers do. And I fell in love. Look, without this program I’m sure I would have never considered engineering as a career. Now, I’m making plans to study electrical engineering. With how few women are in that field, meeting all these girls with similar interests was incredible, enlightening and inspiring. I wouldn’t have been able to experience that without you. So, thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and for my future.

Rebecca, WIE Participant from Pewaukee, WI


This week was an amazing opportunity that has opened my eyes. I came to Michigan Tech expecting a giant room filled with students and a teacher waving a stick at a board but I ended up receiving a one-on-one learning experience with high quality equipment. The earning environment was competitive, fun and educational, with wonderful mentors. It was nothing I expected, even the people. I went to Michigan Tech, a college in the U.P., 10 hours away from home, and never felt uncomfortable or home sick. Everyone was welcoming and understanding. I even made a new friend, Elizabeth. This was a new experience that I could have never been on if it wasn’t for my sponsor.

Nuha, DHDC Participant from Dearborn, MI


When I received my acceptance letter I was so ecstatic that I would get to participate in this amazing course. The discipline of engineering that stuck out to me the most was biomedical engineering. Without your help, I would have never been able to find my passion for this career path. The explorations during the day were so engaging that I didn’t want to leave the classroom! During this course we made slime, gliders, and prosthetic legs, did egg drops, built bridges, and toured many labs. Thank you so much for sponsoring me!

Mackenzie, JWIE Participant from Norway, MI


I was so glad that I took this program, I learned so many things about the different types of engineering. My favorite types of engineering from this week was chemical, biomedical, and geological. This week I learned how to make a prosthetic leg out of shoelaces, a plunger and a sponge. I also made a trinket witch was made from molten tin that we got to put in ourselves. The teachers this program changed my perspective on engineering. They taught me how to see things in a different way, collaborate and always ask questions. This program has changed my life for the better.

Bobbi-Jo, JWIE Participant from Parkland, FL


This week I have been combining E.coli bacteria cells with DNA. We’ve been putting our germs in different temperatures and mixing them with different things. I’ve learned so much more about all of the machines used in the medical field and how hard the process of getting them approved is. I also have learned how long new medicines take to make. We are so fortunate to have people that work hard everyday and never give up, just so others can live better lives. This has helped me see a whole new side of the medical field and I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity. I came here nervous, not knowing anyone, but this helped me push myself out of my comfort zone. I know the relationships I made will last a lifetime.

Rainy, SYP Participant from Waupaca, WI


This program truly had a profound impact on me. I found what I am passionate about while making some amazing memories along the way. I want to study computer science with the hopes of becoming a systems database engineer. I have always had an interest in engineering, but I have never had an opportunity to pursue it more. This program gave me that experience, and it changed my life. I have found inspiration and motivation for my future. It has empowered me as a woman in engineering. I will always remember this camp as a stepping stone to my future life and career. It has given me the tools I need to succeed in my goals in life.

Kathryn, WIE Participant from Ovid, MI