Insight | May 16, 2019 | Arora
Employee Spotlight: Donna Guzewski, PE, LEED Green Associate
Donna Guzewski, PE, LEED Green Associate, is a Senior Mechanical Engineer in our Chadds Ford office. Donna is not only a very dedicated and valued employee, she also serves as a mentor to young women through the Women in Transportation (WTS) program. Donna is presenting a poster at this year’s WTS Annual Conference in Boston which discusses how students generally view STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) throughout their academic careers and the importance of mentoring and encouraging students who show an interest in these subjects. We spoke with Donna about her own path to engineering and her enthusiasm for mentoring the professionals of the future.
What led you to the field of engineering?
My mom was a chemist, so she had a sort of non-traditional female profession. My father was a machinist for Westinghouse, my grandfather was an engineer, and one of my uncles was an architect. So, I think I got some of the math genes from that side of the family. When I was in 7th grade, my mom moved from the Chemistry department to the Engineering department at Widener University. The professors she worked with always told me I was good at math and encouraged me stick with it. They really motivated me to continue with a math focus as I entered college (Widener University) and that brought me into the field of engineering.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really like the beginning of a project. I like all the concepts, the design, and trying to get the work up and running. Then I enjoy towards the end of a job when you are able to work together to complete it and finally see what the finished product will look like. Also, I am always interested in finding out if the client is happy with the final design package we have given them and determining what we can learn from that information.
How did you get involved in mentoring?
In college, we worked closely with one of the local elementary schools and I would tutor their students in math. When I got my first job out of college, I got involved with an organization called Prime. We would visit Central High School, a Philadelphia school geared towards math and science, once a month to do projects with the kids. It always amazed me to see the high level of interest there and the fact that the projects sparked their interest even more.
When I started with Arora, I attended a WTS event and asked how I could get involved. After speaking with some members about my experience, they suggested I would be a good fit for the local chapter of WTS Transportation YOU (TrYOU). TrYOU is an interactive mentoring program that introduces young women (ages 13-18) to a number of different careers in transportation. The program strives to motivate those who have an interest in the field and encourage them to pursue STEM courses as the building blocks of a possible career path.
What do you enjoy most about mentoring?
I love seeing the excitement that this work brings to kids. Most of the girls in the TrYOU program are interested in STEM, either through their parents or through their schools, so it’s great to see their passion for the work as well as the actual projects they are working on. It’s a fun program and it is always nice to hear that they are thinking of going into a technical career because they enjoy the work. They want to be here, they want to learn, and we want to encourage that.
What will you be speaking about at the WTS Annual Conference?
According to recent studies, middle school seems to be the point where most students ultimately decide whether or not they want to pursue math and science, and possibly a technical career. While across the board there is a declining interest in math and science, at that point a majority of those who decide not to pursue a math and science curriculum are girls. Therefore, I discuss how there is currently a decline in the number of students pursuing STEM fields, especially among girls, and the overwhelming need to cultivate and mentor these future professionals to meet the future needs of the industry.