Women & Girls in Science
Saturday, March 4, 2023; 1-4 pm
Wehr’s Women and Girls in Science event aims to provide girls (and boys) with an opportunity to learn about female pioneers in S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and to connect with women who are pursuing these professions in our own community.
Lincoln Park's Blatz Pavilion
1301 W Hampton Ave, Glendale, WI 53209
Current title: Sr Manager, Technology
What I do: I have a lot of different job responsibilities, but most important is working with other engineers in our organization to develop forging and heat treatment processes to meet customer requirements. I also enjoy mentoring new engineers.
Who inspired me: My dad was an engineer and encouraged me to follow the same path.
What got me interested in what I’m doing: I started working with forgings at my first job after college and got hooked! I’ve been working in the industry for almost 30 years and have worked at different locations throughout the country over that time.
Current title: Senior Project Manager in the Engineering Planning Department at Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
Education and experience: I have a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am a registered professional engineer in the State of Wisconsin and a Certified Floodplain Manager. I mostly work on watercourse, stormwater, and climate change related projects. Prior to joining MMSD, I worked in the private sector conducting floodplain determinations for clients ranging from FEMA to state and local governments to private landowners.
What you do: I manage a variety of watershed-related, planning-level projects and provide hydraulic modeling support for the Watercourse Section’s design, construction, and O&M projects.
Who inspired you: My high school chemistry teacher was approachable and enthusiastic. I wanted to be her.
What got you interested in what you are doing: The path to civil engineering was not a straight one. When I was looking at colleges, I thought I wanted to be an architect. I quickly realized that I was not as artistic as I needed to be and decided to apply to colleges as a chemical engineering major, mainly because I was good in math and science and really liked chemistry. My on-campus job was in the chemical engineering building, and it showed me what chemical engineers really do. I decided that I did not want to be in a lab all the time and switched to civil engineering. A class in hydrology, taught by a graduate student, cemented my specialization within civil engineering. I love the “grey” side of engineering – water and soil are never black and white. Analysis and design take assumptions and are an art – I guess I went around full-circle – I just needed a different “art.”
I’m Emily Oja, and I am an Engineer in our Design Engineering department at ATI Forged Products. At ATI, I design tools and prove out processes to forge metal into complex shapes. After these metal components are machined, they’ll end up on helicopters, jets, tanks, and in other applications. On any given day, I’ll be working on computer-aided design models, running process simulations, making tooling drawings, or watching parts run in the shop to see if changes need to be made. I particularly enjoyed my math and science classes in school and ended up going to college for Mechanical Engineering because the possibilities in this field are endless. It is exciting to see my ideas move from the computer to become real tools and products, and it’s rewarding being able to solve problems as they arise.
Title: Public Health Manager, Village of Greendale Health Department
What are the duties of your job: I do a little bit of everything in our department. I work on our community health assessment and improvement plans, supervising our 3 public health strategist, who specifically work with different coalitions and workgroups in our community on topics such as mental health, substance misuse prevention, physical activity and nutrition. I keep up with our internal performance management, workforce development, and quality improvement plans. And last, there is a lot that tends to fall under “other duties as assigned” that varies on a day to day basis, including emergency preparedness, animal bites, disease follow up, Narcan distribution, and anything in between.
Was there someone who inspired you to become who you are or what you have as a career? Or was there a defining moment that helped you choose a career?
I have a weird, coincidental story about how I got into public health! I went into college as an undeclared major. During my freshman year, I was doing a rideshare home, and the person I was driving with was headed back to Milwaukee to do her preceptorship interview for the following semester. She told me all about public health, why she loved it, and then connected me with some of the professors in the program. After hearing her talk about school and meeting with the professors, I knew it’s what I wanted to do! I’ve had a TON of support from those professors and still talk to them regularly now- we’re event partnering with them and a few other health departments for other initiatives around the state.
What kind of schooling did you receive:
I receive a bachelors of science degree in Community and Public Health Education from University of Wisconsin- LaCrosse and will graduate with a Master’s in Public Health, Policy and Administration concentration, from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Zilber School of Public Health
Any last words of wisdom? Or what advice would you give to someone if they wanted to do what you do?
Use your resources! Never feel like you’re asking a dumb question or like you can’t reach out to someone. Especially in public health, you want to work on building your circle bigger, not making a bigger tower- everyone is there to help you and it’s not a competition. I wouldn’t be able to do most of the things I do in my role today if I didn’t lean on other community organizations or health departments to learn from and network with.
Current title: Senior Project Manager at Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
Education and experience: I have a B.S. in civil engineering and a M.S. in environmental engineering. I am also a registered professional engineer in several states. I mostly work in water and wastewater treatment, but have also worked on some environmental contamination projects. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Seychelles developing water systems. I also worked for several years in the field of energy conservation before my engineering education.
What you do: I manage engineering projects at Milwaukee’s two wastewater treatment facilities, working with our consultants and contractors. These projects are mostly replacing and renovating existing equipment, but sometimes they also include improving treatment processes or reducing energy consumption.
Who inspired you: My parents who were medical professionals, environmental activists, public health advocates, engineers and doctors who work overseas on preventing disease, and my engineering professors.
What got you interested in what you are doing: I met a family who was seriously affected by the PBB contamination of dairy products in the 1980s. I originally went to engineering school to study energy conservation and solar energy but switched to environmental engineering after learning more about air, food, and water contamination and how it can be treated.
Title: Public Health Strategist, North Shore Health Department
What are the duties of your job? ( General overview of what you do)
As a public health strategist, I lead population health-based activities, advance community engagement, systems improvement, equity and equality and policy strategies. My work changes day to day: I may work with overdose epidemic partners to identify life-saving strategies, guest lecture on public health for a local university, attend a grassroots health equity coalition meeting, assist with data collection and analysis, write a grant.
Was there someone who inspired you to become who you are or what you have as a career? Or was there a defining moment that helped you choose your career?
Growing up, my parents gave me a microscope. With my microscope I examined everything imaginable, and it ignited my interest in infectious disease microbiology as a career path. I started my undergraduate program in microbiology, but life had other plans, and I obtained my degree is in supply chain (business). When my position was eliminated in 2020, I took time to re-evaluate my career path, as well as clean out my basement Going through boxes, I stumbled upon my childhood microscope, and knew I needed to revisit science. Through research, I found public health was moving toward a new framework (public health 3.0) that incorporated my business skills (continuous improvement, systems and strategy). I also found epidemiology allowed for transferability of skills (statistics, planning, analysis, and processes). Although not a traditional path, my journey came full circle.
What kind of schooling did you receive?
I received my Bachelor of Business Administration in Supply Chain from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Lubar School of Business and my Master of Public Health, Epidemiology concentration from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Zilber School of Public Health, UWM.
Any last words of wisdom? Or what advice would you give someone if they wanted to do what you do?
Each person’s career path is different and may not follow the typical process, and that’s OK. What is important is your career path aligns with and meets your goals in life.