Brianna Roberge, a senior from Chester, was all set to take the “Yearbook” course at Pinkerton Academy when she took a final flip through the school’s course book. “I saw ‘Introduction to Engineering and Design’ and I was interested,” Roberge said. “I’m creative but I’m also good at math. So I gave it a shot, and I loved it!”
Roberge is one of three Pinkerton students who recently completed the “Women In Technology” course offered by BAE Systems of Nashua. She and her colleagues, Sarah Burgess and Angeliek Devine, were honored recently in a ceremony. They received a certificate and leverage for college applications, but the greatest benefit may be the community they formed.
Roberge began her focus by taking an introductory Career and Technical Education (CTE) class and is now taking three classes in the same program. She said she likes engineering because she’s “mathematical and logical, and good with numbers. But I also like to create things, design and use my imagination – and incorporate my ideas into one design.”
Devine, a senior from Derry, got interested in engineering in fifth grade. “I researched it,” she said. “People told me it wasn’t something women went into, so that made me want to do it all the more.”
Devine began her career focus in freshman year, when she signed up for the Robotics team. She wanted to enroll in Introduction to Engineering but it was full. “But Mr. Cunningham, who was the Robotics coach at that time, saw how passionate I was about the subject and he got me in,” she added. She had since taken the introductory course, Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics and is now in Engineering Design and Development.
Devine, now a captain of one of the Robotics teams, said she likes engineering because “there’s a lot of problem-solving. You get to think creatively. A lot of the courses are problem-driven.”
Burgess began to focus on the field in her sophomore year when she was choosing classes. Both her parents are engineers, and when her father suggested it, she decided it would be a good fit. She has since taken Introduction to Engineering, Auto-CAD design, Principles of Engineering, and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing.
The students were recommended by faculty for the Women in Engineering (WIT) program, Roberge said, adding, “We filled out an application and had it reviewed.”
Devine said the program has hosted other Pinkerton students and, “They look forward to the Pinkerton students.”
The girls joined students from other high schools for weekly sessions at BAE, where they learned about the different aspects of engineering. In a final slide-show presentation they distilled what they had learned.
The program sparked each girl’s interest in her future career field. Burgess is honing in on biomedical research, she said, noting, “We did a unit with robots, and that helped me solidify it.
Devine was originally interested in aerospace engineering, but after she did her mechanical engineering “rotation” at BAE, she realized that was what she enjoyed.
Roberge said she had been “set” on being an electrical engineer, and that the electrical engineering module was enjoyable for her. “But I enjoyed the other modules and I thought, ‘This could be kind of cool, too,’” She said.
The girls formed teams with students from other schools, in groups of three, to work on their presentations. They e-mailed and texted each other and, Burgess said, “became good friends.” They gave public presentations Feb. 17 at the Sky Meadow Country Club in Nashua, and were awarded their certificates.