After recently being featured in an article of The Manufacturing Institute, I was given the opportunity to interview our own former student Brandy King, formerly Brandy Risha. As an engineer at Greene Tweed, she’s been working to further innovate technology today. A lot of their success has been due to her dedication and hard work in her field. In an email, I asked Ms. King some questions and got her perspective about the world of engineering.
Q: How does it feel to be a woman in STEM?
A: “Women bring a different perspective to the STEM field. Typically dominated by males, the female perspective is valuable to the work that we do. We’re often nurturing, thoughtful and patient which can offer a great contrast to male coworkers. We’re able to interact differently with coworkers, subordinates and superiors, inspire different routes for technical innovation and communication, and bring a different demeanor to meetings and teamwork. As with any minority group, there are challenges when trying to break through the majority. It can be tough trying to pave the way – getting people to change their attitudes and the way they approach and speak to women. But many companies are doing a good job trying to hire more female engineers and, in my experience, we do a good job at working together to try and change the climate.”
Q: How long have you been in the field of engineering?
A: “ I started my engineering education in 2008. I had two internships while in college. I started my full time job as an engineer in 2012.”
Q: What do process engineers do in the world of science?
A: “Process engineer is a really broad term that captures many different types of potential career paths. For me, it means I’m working on scaling up new materials from the Research and Development stage to get them ready for mass production, helping with continuous improvement of product that is already being manufactured and also working on new product development. Process engineers in industry can work on many different types of products and processes.”
Q: What do you think influenced you to choose this career path?
A: “ I am lucky enough to have several great role models in my family who recognized my aptitude for science and math. A number of them are in technical fields (engineering, chemistry, etc.) and most are UHS grads. While nearing the end of high school it made most sense to me to try engineering in college and see where it would take me. I knew the path from engineering to a different degree is usually much easier than the path into engineering from a less technical major, so I chose Chemical Engineering and it stuck! I am one of four daughters – my parents and relatives always encouraged us to take whatever path we wanted, regardless of our gender. They also emphasized choosing a career path where we could be independent, earn a living and provide for ourselves. There were also local programs specifically designed to inspire technical and professional skills and teachers who encouraged me along the way. Ilona Fecek always pushed us to meet or exceed our academic potential and also empowered her students to attend events like E-days and Girrl Power! – STEM programs run by Dave Meredith of Penn State Fayette. PJAS (Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science) was also a key program for me that promoted the use of the scientific method and required a formal presentation by participants. Art Hruby and Pamela Gadd were the Uniontown sponsors for this program while I was in junior high and high school. Had it not been for my family, these teachers and sponsors, I’m not sure I would’ve been exposed to so many different STEM fields.”
Q: Do you think your work will inspire a new generation of young women to join the engineering field?
A: “I suppose I could never be certain of that, but I surely hope so! My older sister (Sandy Risha) started in engineering before me and that was a big influence on my choice and our younger sister (Karleigh Risha) and cousin (Lexi Risha) are currently at NYU and PSU for Engineering – so I think we’re at least rubbing off on our family. Hopefully that extends to others as well. There are so many talented female engineers out there trying to do their best to influence the status quo and encourage more and more women and girls that Rosie the Riveter had it right and “We can do it!”
I feel very privileged to have been able to conduct this interview with Ms. King. It is amazing to see the achievements she is reaching as an engineer. Her hard work shows us all that if we pursue our dreams and goals with vigor we can all achieve them. I certainly wish Ms. King luck in her future endeavors!
The link is below to the article about Brandy in The Manufacturing Institute: