About 20 professionals from various STEM fields on hand to personally share experiences from their careers with interested students and their families.
By Zane Clark
The Lenape Regional High School District is no stranger to having its teachers and administrators extol the virtues of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) throughout its classrooms.
Yet for nearly an hour and half last week, the district was lucky enough to have about 20 professionals from various STEM fields on hand to personally share experiences from their careers with interested students and their families.
Last week marked the LRHSD’s annual STEM Career Night at Lenape High School, where students and their families from the district’s four high schools could choose to attend up to three, 20-minute presentations hosted by professionals working in various STEM-related careers.
Just some of the presenters on hand included a geotechnical engineer, an electronic engineer, a pharmacist, a professor of computer science, a cardiologist, an environmental engineer, an engineer from Exelon Nuclear, a senior architect from Lockheed Martin and more.
As described by Lenape assistant principal and science advisor Gene Jones at the start of the event, students and families were encouraged to ask the professionals questions not only about their current jobs, but their career paths and the preparation needed to enter their field of study.
One presenter was software engineer Joseph Preble, who has more than 30 years in the field and owns his own consulting business, through which he has developed software for the U.S. Army, Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard.
During his presentation, Preble showcased a game with a character that could only move across the x-axis, before then altering the game’s code slightly in real time to allow that same character to move in the y-axis as well.
As Preble gave an overview of his work with various computer-coding languages, he spoke about how those who work with software might never have all the answers, but they can always work with other engineers to achieve their goals.
“You’re going to break things, but that’s the fun part, because then you get to fix them,” Preble said.
Also on hand was mechanical engineer Brian Gutherman, who owns his own consulting firm and has 35 years of experience in the nuclear industry in a variety of engineering and management positions.
In addition to giving an overview of various engineering disciplines and related salaries, Gutherman said that, similar to basic economics, an engineer’s value is based on whether supply is low and whether demand is high.
“Even if you don’t follow engineering, make yourself as unique as you can be in your skill set,” Gutherman said. “If somebody needs your expertise, they’ll find you.”
As the event concluded, Cherokee parent Jean Marie Farkas, who attended the event with her freshman son Andrew Farkas, said she thought the event was great for students, as she didn’t have any similar opportunities when she was in high school.
“My son doesn’t really know what he wants to do yet, but this gave us an opportunity where he looked at engineering, sports medicine and actuarial science,” Farkas said. “Basically, the bottom line in high school is stay in academics.”
Andrew echoed his mother, and said he believed the event provided a good experience for students looking toward the future.
“I got to see different job opportunities and see how much they paid and take notes — I’d definitely do it again,” Andrew said.
Another student at the event was Lenape sophomore Lauren Green, who said she also enjoyed learning about the prerequisites needed for certain careers, as well as starting salaries and college paths of the presenters.
“It’s an event people should probably attend,” Green said.