Pioneering women in STEM
Perhaps the best part about being an educator is sharing one’s knowledge of and passion for a particular subject with others.
As assistant professors and co-founders of a group to encourage female student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), Dr. Danielle Bond and Dr. Tabitha Sprau Coulter are igniting the imaginations of young women by showing students how rewarding and interesting engineering can be.
In August 2014, the two engineers’ paths crossed when they became assistant professors at Alfred State. During their very first semester, they co-founded a group for engineering students that came to be known as Women Engineers are Pioneers (WEP), which encourages young people to be interested in STEM fields of study, especially young women.
According to Bond, WEP has two main goals, the first of which is connecting female students in engineering and technology programs at Alfred State to enable collaboration, community, and support. The second goal involves leading and participating in outreach events to attract young people to engineering and technology programs.
The club, which has a core group of mostly but not exclusively female engineering students, has five student officers and meets on a weekly basis. It has also teamed up with the SAE Baja Club to earn a leadership suite in the Student Leadership Center.
Bond said she encourages women to consider engineering because it typically provides many job opportunities with interesting work and good salaries.
“Obviously these things are good for anyone, regardless of gender,” she said. “I would also say, for anyone career-shopping, so to speak, that engineers are creative problem-solvers who can make a difference in the world.”
Sprau Coulter noted that the goal in founding the club was “to provide opportunities, as well as to show young women that they can be successful and that there are other women in the field.” However, both she and Bond stressed that the club is open to anyone who wishes to join.
Both Bond’s and Sprau Coulter’s paths to becoming educators at Alfred State began in their native state of Pennsylvania. Hailing from Sweet Valley, Sprau Coulter graduated from Lafayette College in 2007 with her bachelor’s degree in engineering, and a minor in architecture. She then enrolled at Penn State, where she received her master’s in 2009 and her PhD in 2014, both of which are in architectural engineering.
Professionally, Sprau Coulter provided consulting services as an energy modeler for a small engineering design firm at Penn State. Afterward, she went on to work at KlingStubbins, an architecture, engineering, interior design, and planning firm headquartered in Philadelphia, which was acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group in 2011.
A Pittsburgh native, Bond received her bachelor’s degree in engineering with a minor in educational studies from Swarthmore College in 2006. She then earned her PhD in mechanical engineering in 2014 from the University of Pittsburgh.
Bond worked as a mechanical engineer at M-R/Innoveers LLC and URS Corporation before taking on engineering teaching positions at the University of Pittsburgh and Robert Morris University.
Through their efforts and outreach, Sprau Coulter and Bond are leading the way for future generations to discover the exciting world of engineering and to share their passion for the field with others as they both have done.