Apr 07, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Reliability Engineer Finds Inspiration in STEM Mentoring

It’s not unusual to hear Amy Walker, reliability engineer supervisor – PPL Electric Utilities, talk about her love of math and science. And now she is using that passion to inspire a new generation of girls into pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers.

Recognizing a need to bridge the gap in STEM education and career preparation for girls, Walker jumped at the chance to mentor girls in the STEM Sisters program at The North Museum in Lancaster, Pa.

“When I was in school there weren’t initiatives like this,” Walker said. “I am so passionate about these programs and my ability to provide an opportunity to girls that I didn’t have – to answer questions, get them excited about technology and just make it easier for them to discover their career path.”

The STEM Sisters, funded in part by a grant from PPL, was created as a fun, interactive and effective way to spark interest in STEM careers for girls in sixth grade through 12th grade. The program offers them an opportunity to discover potential career paths to meet undergraduate students pursuing degrees and professional women already working in STEM fields. “I meet with the girls about once a month, but they can reach me anytime,” Walker said. “We spend our time exploring different areas of science and technology through hands-on learning projects, such as robotics, electronics, math problems and biology experiments.”

Feeling inspired, Walker decided to extend her reach by also becoming a mentor with the Whitaker Center’s Girls in STEM program, based in Harrisburg, Pa. Each month, she dedicates a Sunday to providing an immersive STEM experience for girls ages 10 – 16. “While the girls work on different science projects and experiments they have an opportunity to talk openly with us and ask questions about what we do and what we like about our jobs,” Walker said. “I want them to know that they have a support network and I want them to feel empowered to make the right decisions.”

Devoting this time has given Walker a renewed sense of appreciation for her career choice. “It reminds me how much I love being a nerd,” she said. “I just get so excited when I’m around other girls who love math just as much as I do or love to see the results of a science experiment.”

But the reward goes beyond personal satisfaction and reminds girls that it’s OK to be into science and technology. “These girls might think they are different, but they’re really not. When they get in a room with 50 other girls who like science too, and think that the Pythagorean Theorem is the best thing ever, it’s no longer different – it’s cool,” Walker said. “These are more than just programs. They give girls the freedom to explore all the possibilities in STEM,” Walker said. “And it’s inspiring and motivating, and encouraging and captivating. And it makes me want to do even more.”

PPL Corporation is committed to supporting STEM education initiatives that prepare educators and students to address critical energy issues and emerging trends in electricity. We seek to open doors and unlock potential for educators and students in pre-school through university. This commitment ensures STEM innovations, and innovators, for generations to come. Read more about our support for education.

For more information on the STEM Sisters program, click here.

For more information on the Girls in STEM program, click here.