In our second edition of MEEN Girl Spotlight- Sara Van Kalker talks about her time in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Sara is on the MEEN Girls Outreach team this year to teach underclassmen, and high school students about the multitude of opportunities available with a mechanical engineering degree.
Howdy Ags, my name is Sara Van Kalker and I am a junior mechanical engineering major. My first year at Texas A&M was thrilling and challenging. As a girl with little technical experience, I was often not confident in my abilities to keep up with all the great Aggie engineers. However, after getting involved with ASME, MEEN girls and Alpha Chi Omega, my networks have broadened and I now have great support systems.
As second semester sophomore year came around, I was offered a co-op with Johnson and Johnson’s medical company Ethicon after attending the fall career fair. This co-op furthered my confidence as a girl in engineering because I was able to work on hands-on projects that developed my technical skills. During my co-op, I was able to learn about lean manufacturing and become yellow belt certified. In addition, I learned all about medical manufacturing and its regulations. Because Ethicon produces over eighty percent of the world’s sutures, it was always a priority to comply with all medical standards set by all of the countries. This made for a very exciting work environment.
Coming back from my co-op to begin my junior year at Texas A&M has been surprisingly easier than I thought. After little studying for a whole semester, I was a little worried on how I would pick up the college life schedule again. However, my support systems within ASME, MEEN girls and Alpha Chi Omega has made the transition easy. I urge all under (and upper) classmen engineers to get involved with different organizations…either engineering related or not. Having support systems in different areas makes college fun and it’s beneficial. I know junior year has many challenges yet to come, but I can confidently say I am prepared to tackle them with the confidence I have developed though my support systems and co-op experience.