Stephanie Cass loves to think, to imagine – and to design. The Mechanical Engineering Technology major captures these explorations on paper: questions, solutions, the machinery of things and how it works.

Why do the shape of wind turbine blades vary? How can differently-shaped blades better harness energy from the wind? Those are some of the questions she explores.

“I’ve always had ideas. I have a notebook of things I love to design and create,” said the first-year student from Windsor.

A degree in Engineering Technology is a sure path to the workplace, and Cass plans to get a job in the field once she completes her degree. Then, going forward, she will pursue additional education; some employers will pay for your schooling, she noted.

But for Cass, engineering is more than the prospect of steady employment and a good paycheck. Rather, it’s an opportunity to do what she loves best: design and create.

She chose SUNY Broome because it’s local and affordable, but was pleasantly surprised by what she found.

“The people go above and beyond to make sure you succeed. All of my instructors here have been really good at teaching and explaining things,” she said.

One of only a few women in Mechanical Engineering Technology, Cass found a support group as well, through the Non-Traditional Career Ambassadors program. The group is geared toward all students who are pursuing fields considered non-traditional by gender, and gave Cass the opportunity to meet other female STEM majors whom she might not otherwise have encountered.

“Engineering is not a popular field for women. Part of it is a cultural thing. When you’re growing up, what types of toys did you play with?” Cass observed.

She advised women who are interested in engineering not to give up, even when they run across some of those cultural assumptions about women and STEM.

“If anything, it makes it more fun to show them up,” she said.

Students who are non-traditional by gender should also consider joining the ambassador program, she added. She hopes that the program will continue – until gender disparities disappear in careers such as engineering, healthcare, human services and more.

“You have a support system, which is big,” she said of the group. “I think it’s cool that it exists. I hope it becomes obsolete someday.”