Meet 6 Female Engineers from Mines Class of 2019

Colorado School of Mines has a long tradition of women pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields – dating back to 1898 when Florence Caldwell was the first woman to graduate with a degree in civil engineering. 

Last year, Mines’ total undergraduate enrollment was 26.6 percent women, 6.7 percent above the national average of 19.9 percent (according to the American Society for Engineering Education). The fall 2015 first-year class has set a record with 31.2 percent women (353 students versus 297 in last year’s entering class), an 18.9 percent increase from last year.

Beyond Colorado, these women come from 30 different states and 18 countries including China, Angola, India and Saudi Arabia. Sixty report a legacy relationship and are continuing a family tradition in their attendance at Mines. Thirty-four students are participating across the full spectrum of our women’s varsity athletic programs.

Mines also has the largest collegiate section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in the country with more than 650 members. SWE has weekly meetings devoted to personal and professional development, the members participate in outreach, and it provides a really strong community for women on campus.

“For the past 15 years, Mines has been working to recruit and retain women through the Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (WISEM) program. We are very excited these efforts are working to create a pipeline of future female engineers,” said Stephanie Berry, director of WISEM. “A diverse student population is important to Mines because it leads to more creative problem solving and innovation.”

So what does it look like to be a female engineer on campus this year? Get to know six students from this first-year class.

Kenzley Sparks

Major: Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

Hometown: Murray, KY

Hobbies: Running

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Bubbly
  • Athletic
  • Clumsy

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

Meeting new people.

Why did you choose Mines?

I loved the community atmosphere where everyone works together and helps each other through tough classes. Also, the beauty of Colorado is amazing to wake up to every morning and I feel very fortunate for this opportunity.

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

There are a lot of people out there that doubt your ability, but at the same time everyone here at Mines and many others encourage you and believe in you.

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Don’t be scared to step away from the norm and go after your dreams.

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

Working at Nike headquarters as a materials engineer specializing in synthetic polymers to develop materials for athletic gear and running shoes.

Nicole Demby

Major: Mechanical Engineering 

Hometown: Cortez, CO

Hobbies: Playing sports and hanging out with friends 

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Outgoing
  • Athletic
  • Friendly

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

This year I am looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing new things.

Why did you choose Mines?

I chose Mines because it is a top engineering school that is also in one of the most beautiful places in the country. 

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

It is really exciting being a part of the movement of more women in the STEM fields and breaking the stereotypes that surround women in engineering. 

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Advice to other young women like me: let the skepticism of others become your motivation for proving them wrong. When people warned me about how hard Mines is and how much math and science I'd have to take, it only made me want to work even harder rather than go to a school with an easier workload. 

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

After Mines I would love to use my mechanical engineering degree to work all over the world designing things that will improve the lives of others.

Tatjana Scherschel

Major: Undecided (thinking Petroleum Engineering)

Hometown: Roxborough, CO

Hobbies: Swimming, sailing, running and reading

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Friendly
  • Optimistic
  • Taking from President Johnson's Convocation speech, a little bit quirky

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

I am most definitely looking forward to being a member of the Mines community. There are so many different people around campus and all of them inspire me in their own way. Some are just way too good at slacklining and others are fantastic at rock climbing or volleyball. And everyone I have met has impressed me with his or her intellect and ambition.

Why did you choose Mines?

I chose Mines because of the type of people who are associated with the university and, of course, because of its excellence in engineering. The atmosphere is very driven and focused, but yet there is still balance. Students find time to be a part of so many clubs and organizations, and they still excel in very difficult classes, work, and somehow remain very friendly and welcoming. I wanted to be a part of such an energetic group of people while taking classes that would give me the knowledge and ability to obtain the engineering job of my dreams.

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

It is inspiring! As a woman interested in science and engineering, I feel as if I am not only studying for myself but for millions of others young girls, who perhaps have an interest in geology or physics, but talk themselves out of it or never get the chance to pursue a degree. This realization motivates me to do what I can to reach out to other women and encourage them to follow their dreams, even if it requires calculus.

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

I would tell them to go for it! A young woman should never give up her dreams just because she may currently be a minority. She is tougher than that! I would tell her that she has the strength to earn a degree in science or engineering and that she can become a role model to other young girls just like her. Anything that a young lady puts her mind to she can accomplish.

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

I have always been interested in studying the Earth, and after Mines I would like to work in a field that involves geology or earth science to some degree. Right now, I am thinking about petroleum engineering. However, no matter what I decide to major in or where I work, I hope to continue to support women in science and engineering.

Victoria Martinez-Vivot

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Hobbies: Biking, hiking, soccer, viola, photography and videography

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Dedicated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Thoughtful

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

This year I am looking forward to just jumping into the Mines community! I am excited about my classes, and can’t wait to get involved, and try lots of new things around campus. I look forward to meeting lots of new people and to making a lot of new friends. I am just thrilled to be here and can’t wait to see what college will bring.

 Why did you choose Mines?

I chose Mines because I just love the community. It’s a great very focused community and coming from a really small school, I knew I didn’t want to go on to a very big school so when I learned about Mines it just felt like the perfect size and the perfect fit for me. I like that it’s a school where you get to know your professors and is a place where everyone is taking engineering specific math and sciences classes so that we can all work together to succeed. Plus, the campus is perfect!

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

Honestly, it feels pretty normal, at least for me. I feel pretty cool when I tell people that I want to be an engineer and I always get a lot of comments about how awesome it is that I’m pursuing a STEM career. I guess I grew up in a community where a woman being interested in science wasn’t a weird or unusual thing.  

 What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Just do it! If you feel passionate about math and or science, then go for it. Don’t let the opinions of others or the male to female ratio make you doubt a STEM career. It may be hard work, but in the end it’ll pay off and you’ll be doing something you love. You’ll never have to “work” a day in your life.

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

After Mines, I hope to end up working somewhere in the medical field with my mechanical engineering degree. I love medicine and anything medically related but being a doctor wasn’t really the best fit for me, so I hope to be able to make a difference by engineering various different tools and products to better our healthcare.

Kim Marie Bessler

Major: Biochemical Engineering

Hometown: Schenectady, NY

Hobbies: Trail running, mountain climbing, rock climbing and cooking

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Driven
  • Passionate
  • Brave

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

I am looking forward to meeting new people, getting to know the faculty, and taking classes that are more relevant to my major.

Why did you choose Mines? 

Mines has a reputation of being tough and producing some of the greatest engineers in this country. That is exactly what I expect out of an engineering school.

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

I think it is fun. I absolutely love learning how everything, including myself, works. 

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Work hard because the knowledge gained is incredibly rewarding.  

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines? 

I would like to get involved with the research of clean plastics. My goal is to create a material that replaces current packaging and is able to biodegrade returning elements to the planet rather then polluting — the outcome being a carbon-zero planet. I feel a strong ethical responsibility to leave a clean planet for future generations.

Chloe Archuleta

Major: Biological and Chemical Engineering

Hometown: Arvada, CO

Hobbies: Netflix, listening to music, and organizing my room over and over and over again

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Stressed
  • Organized
  • Passionate

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

Exploring my major and meeting students and professors with the same passions as myself.

Why did you choose Mines?

Because more women need to be here!

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

Amazing! I feel like I'm setting a new standard and role model for young women. I am eager to watch and help more and more women enter STEM fields.

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Keep up your studies and work hard. Your studies and education should be your top priority and never stop fighting to be successful. Be the role model you wish you had when you were younger.

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

Biomedical technology research.

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 / kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / kgilbert@mines.edu