Meet Kayla, an Environmental Engineer currently working as a Staff Engineer at CDH Consulting. First inspired by her third-grade teacher and later by science classes in high school, Kayla realized she could pursue a career in STEM, apply her range of technical and soft skills, and make an impactful difference on the world around her. She holds a BS in Environmental Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and has several years of consulting experience in the oil and natural gas industry.
While the oil and natural gas industry holds a bad reputation, Kayla says that, through her experience, most companies in this industry "want to do the right thing and work to find new, sustainable ways to provide energy to the world." Consulting for these companies means that Kayla gets to work with colleagues to find client solutions that help them maintain productivity while also adhering to applicable regulations and protecting public health and the environment.
Environmental Engineer (n) - an engineer who strives to optimize the use of natural resources and works to develop renewable energy resources and sustainable practices
Kayla's insight into environmental engineering brought to light how important the "soft skills" are in fields that focus on combining technical solutions with the more human elements: it takes great skill to find the balance between community needs and emerging technological developments.
"It takes compassion, understanding, and empathy to design programs aimed to reduce negative environmental impacts from different human operations. These skills aren't often taught in engineering courses in school. I think this is where women in particular can promote more effective collaboration in STEM fields because they offer a different perspective of the world and new ideas on how to incorporate technology and community."
Kayla attributes her first interest in STEM to her third-grade teacher who "made sure [she] knew [she] was capable of accomplishing anything." Throughout her school career, she found herself drawn to math and science because these subjects offered explanations for how and why the world works. After taking an environmental science class in high school, she had found her passion: this was a realm in which she could have a lasting, positive impact on the environment.
Even outside her professional sphere, Kayla has found ways in which her fiber arts hobbies have contributed to increased output in creative problem solving. She divulged that, after discovering shared interests with her coworkers (a group of knitters!), the team bonded on a personal level which led to more open discussions and collaborative work sharing because they felt more comfortable with each other. What an awesome personal-professional crossover that helped the team grow at -- and outside of -- the office!
Time and again, Kayla talked about the significance of applying not only technical engineering skills, but those of compassion and kindness. She exemplifies the idealistic notion that "every day offers a chance to find better ways to fix problems to reduce negative impacts in your world." Her words to young women interested in STEM were inspirational:
"Your contributions can make a lasting impact, whether you are making groundbreaking new discoveries... or offering encouragement and positivity to your team. STEM focused careers require a person to be capable of creative and critical thinking, to think outside the box and challenge tradition, and to combine technical practices with compassionate thinking... Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up, encourage others, and don't let yourself and your own doubts stand in your way."
Shop yarns inspired by Kayla and other inspiration real women in STEM.