Cynthia Pierre: Why I love engineering
Cynthia Pierre studied Chemical Engineering at Princeton University and then went onto a PhD in Materials Science at Northwestern University. She is currently working as Materials and Corrosion Engineering Lead at BP Kwinana Refinery in Western Australia. Cynthia shares her engineering story with us below.
A defining moment came during my junior year of high school, when my physics teacher invited me to apply to the NASA Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program (SHARP) Plus. Through NASA SHARP Plus, I worked with Professor Peter Smirniotis at the University of Cincinnati on converting a non-valuable reaction by-product into a valuable product. That experience exposed me to the endless possibilities that an engineering education could afford me. That experience gave me the determination to withstand the rigorous curriculum at Princeton and an enthusiastic disposition to approach the research opportunities presented to me during my doctoral studies at Northwestern. Collectively, I learned through these experiences that I could have a positive impact on society using engineering.
I find so much satisfaction in looking at how engineering, in conjunction with other science disciplines and mathematics, has revolutionized our society. I grew up in a society where I had to carry coins to make a phone call in case I needed to use a payphone to call my parents; however, today many children will never have this experience due to the development of cellular phones. I am still in awe of how we can eradicate and treat once deadly diseases. I worked on the optimization of the Varicella Vaccine as an intern/apprentice at Merck & Co. Soon thereafter, my nieces and nephews received the vaccine, providing them immunity to Chickenpox. In summary, I love engineering because in so many ways it has allowed me to positively impact the quality of life of many individuals.
My academic and professional experiences have allowed me to become a holder of 3 US granted patents and I have co-authored 3 pending patent applications. I hope to continue to make valuable contributions to the sector that I work in and I also aspire to hold an executive position in the area of operations or research and development for a global company.
Because of my many mentors, I spend a significant portion of my time mentoring young students with an emphasis in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and activities. Accordingly, my ultimate goal is that my accomplishments will inspire more women and underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in STEM.
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