Sparking a Passion for STEM
Electrical and computer engineering student Maria Crawford is helping high school students discover their love for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Over the summer, Crawford interned with Brentwood High School, a Mini Research Grant Award partner school, as part of the New York Tech Internship Certificate Program. In addition to building her résumé skills, the experience allowed her to mentor younger students in engineering and science-related projects. This included a field trip to Sunken Meadow State Park (Kings Park, N.Y.), where the students interacted with the BioBus, a traveling mobile laboratory that provides science research opportunities to students from traditionally underrepresented communities.
Crawford sat down with The Box to talk about her internship experience and how she is actively sharing her passion for STEM.
Why did you choose this major?
I knew that I wanted to pursue something in engineering, but I was not sure what specialty until I went to Suffolk County Community College. There, I had the opportunity to experience different engineering fields because, as far as engineering, they only offer an engineering science major.
At New York Tech, we are given a taste of civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical, and computer engineering. While completing my associate degree, I realized that the courses I enjoyed the most and had an aptitude for were electrical and computer engineering.
Tell us about your projects with high school students.
I am working with the Brentwood High School Lemelson–MIT finalists to complete their application and create a prototype of their project. The project is an ecological water monitoring device that is cost-effective to encourage citizen science and bring science to younger students. The device will include sensors like temperature, PH, turbidity, and salinity, as well as a mussel sensor that will be attached to a fully-grown mussel to measure how wide it is opening or gaping. The wider the gape, the better and more nutrient-filled the environment around it, making them an excellent animal to create a biosensor around.
Can you talk about your recent trip to Sunken Meadow State Park?
The program brought us to Sunken Meadow State Park a few times because of the salt marshes that reside there. Many students collected samples and data. We also collected samples from the Long Island Sound. From there, we used an already existing, very expensive water sensor to gather water information to compare to our own device’s readings.
What are some of your accomplishments outside of school?
For seven years, I worked in clerical and office-related positions. I was able to gain a lot of experience working with customers and colleagues. During this time, I took on different roles from accounting and bookkeeping to front desk and scheduling to call center representative and filing clerk. I always left on great terms and have maintained relationships with past employers, which have come in handy when it comes to recommendations.
How is New York Tech preparing you for the future?
I am part of the National Society of Leadership Success at New York Tech, which is helping me prepare for my career. The society provides support with things like résumés, profiles, and cover letters. The organization also has many inspirational guest speakers, like Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama. New York Tech has also supported me during my summer 2021 internship at Brentwood High School through the Internship Certificate Program. They helped me to focus on professional communication and make career-building relationships.
What do you love most about New York Tech?
I love the support that the school offers. Although my experience has only been during COVID-19, the administration and mentors have been in constant communication with me. Many of the opportunities I have been given are because someone at New York Tech has reached out to me with information.
What surprised me about New York Tech was their response to COVID. They have been as transparent as possible with the ongoing changes during these unpredictable times. The school has also advocated for vaccines and even makes it possible to receive them on campus.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I come from a musical family. My grandfather was a musician, and my father and uncles carry on the tradition with their own band now. I play the trumpet and met my trumpet-playing husband when I was part of an all-age marching band called Drum Corps.