Girl Day 2018: Introduce a Girl to Engineering

National Girl Day is February 22, 2018

This is a perfect time to inspire a girl’s future by sharing your knowledge and experience that girls, science, and engineering can make a difference in this world!

Tata & Howard Engineer and former New England Patriots Cheerleader – Trish Kelliher

Tata & Howard Project Engineer Patricia Kelliher (Trish) and former New England Patriots Cheerleader talks about her experience:

“After retiring from the Patriots in 2013, I was able to speak at the Pop Warner Little Scholars banquet in Boston. About 1,500 Pop Warner football players and cheerleaders with their parents attend the banquet every year.

The Science Cheerleaders have a partnership with Pop Warner where they help their cheerleaders feel empowered to ditch stereotypes (about female scientists/engineers and about cheerleaders) and maybe even consider science or engineering as a career option.  I was able to give a 20-minute speech on my story, how I became interested in both cheerleading and engineering, and hopefully try and encourage the cheerleaders in attendance to break stereotypes.”

Continue reading Girl Day 2018: Introduce a Girl to Engineering

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day 2017

introduce-a-girl-to-engineering-dayThis week is Engineers Week, which is celebrated in February of each year, and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day always falls during Engineers Week. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day 2017 fell on February 23 this year, and since “Girl Day” is very important to Tata & Howard, we decided to celebrate the day by inviting local middle school girls to come into the office for a special event. The evening was a great success – and also quite a bit of fun!

Students and engineers alike provided personal introductions.

In the engineering industry, only 11% of the workforce are women. However, Tata & Howard has always been above this statistic and since the beginning, has striven to recognize the value of women in engineering. Tata & Howard was established in 1992 by Donald Tata, P.E. and Paul Howard, P.E. Initially a two-person firm, the company quickly grew, and out of the first 20 hires, eight were female. This trend continued, and today, 32% of our engineering workforce is female, including the firm’s two co-presidents, Karen Gracey, P.E. and Jenna Rzasa, P.E.

To celebrate our commitment to women in engineering, Tata & Howard hosted an Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day event for local middle school girls at our corporate office in Marlborough, Massachusetts. All of our Marlborough-based female engineers participated with the exception of Maya Rhinehart, who was instead volunteering at Girls Inc. The overwhelming participation of our female engineers exemplifies their commitment to the industry as well as their incredible sense of teamwork and philanthropy.

girl-dayThe evening started with a brief introduction given by Karen, including a story of her experience at the University of Vermont, where she was sometimes the only female in her engineering classes. Justine Carroll, P.E., Project Manager and Team Leader, then presented a slideshow on environmental engineering and talked about the services provided by Tata & Howard, after which the female engineers each shared their personal journeys to choosing the engineering field. The girls then enjoyed a dinner of pizza and salad during which Amanda Cavaliere, Project Manager and Team Leader, led a discussion on the value of great teachers.

Once dinner was finished, the girls participated in a water tank building activity with some of our female engineers. Each group was given supplies including a disposable cup, rubber bands, chewing gum, string, drinking straws, paper clips, push pins, and Band-Aids and were charged with building the tallest elevated “tank” that could successfully hold eight ounces of water for 30 seconds. For 30 minutes, the girls brainstormed and built alongside the engineers until their masterpieces were finished. Immediately after, the tanks were tested for their structural stability. Karen poured the water into each of the “tanks” and we started the timer. Unfortunately, neither tank successfully lasted for 30 seconds, but we assured the girls that even engineers who attempted this activity at local trade organizations were unsuccessful. After all – Band-aids and chewing gum are no substitute for concrete and steel! One thing is for sure: there were plenty of laughs during the testing portion of the event.



Each girl was sent home with a certificate of completion and many smiles. The event was a huge success for not only the young girls, but also for the employee-owners who participated, and we are already planning for next year’s Girl Day. How did you celebrate Girl Day or E-Week? Let us know in the comments below – and Happy Engineers Week!

National Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day 2016

EngineersFebruary 21-27, 2016 is very special to Tata & Howard, as it is National Engineers Week. National Engineers Week — or “EWeek” — was first celebrated in 1951 by the National Society for Professional Engineers (NSPE), and since then has been celebrated annually in February during the week that contains the birthday of our nation’s first engineer — George Washington.

EWeek is an opportunity for organizations and individuals to highlight the importance of engineering skills such as math, science, and technical literacy. According to the NSPE, EWeek is a formal coalition of more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. Dedicated to raising public awareness of engineers’ positive contributions to quality of life, EWeek promotes recognition among parents, teachers, and students of the importance of a technical education and a high level of math, science, and technology literacy, and motivates youth to pursue engineering careers in order to provide a diverse and vigorous engineering workforce.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

introduce_a_girl_to_engineering_dayStarted 15 years ago in 2001 as a joint effort between NSPE, IBM, and the National Engineers Week Foundation, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day always falls during EWeek, this year on February 25. “Girl Day” is a special opportunity for engineers to introduce more girls and young women to engineering, and to show them the creative side of engineering and how it changes our world.

Engineering has long been a male-dominated profession. In recent years, engineering colleges and universities have focused on increasing enrollment of females, and currently the female undergraduate enrollment at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is 31%, at California Institute of Technology is 39%, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology is 46%. However, the national average of female engineering students remains at a dismal 18%, and the number of employed female engineers is even more alarming: currently, only about 11% of our nation’s engineering workforce is female.

At Tata & Howard, we esteem engineers who embrace our core values of teamwork, efficient solutions, client satisfaction, integrity, and positive attitude, regardless of gender, and currently 25% of our engineering staff is female. Our female engineers are bright, energetic professionals who are valued every bit as much as their male counterparts; in fact, two of the six members of our Board of Directors are women. So in celebration of EWeek and Girl Day, we’d like to introduce you to some of our phenomenal female engineers.

Tata & Howard’s Women in Leadership

l to r: Karen Gracey, Justine Carroll, Amanda Cavaliere, and Jenna Rzasa
l to r: Karen Gracey, Justine Carroll, Amanda Cavaliere, and Jenna Rzasa

Karen Gracey, Vice President, Manager of Business Development and member of the Board of Directors, has over 17 years of concentrated water system experience. Karen holds a BS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont and has been with the firm since she graduated. She has completing numerous hydraulic modeling projects, and is certified in WaterGems and InfoWater software. Among the projects strengthening her resume are a number of water main designs, Capital Efficiency Plans™, pump stations, and storage tanks designs. Additionally, Karen has concentrated experience in water system evaluations, with the completion of over 30 water distribution system studies and asset management plans.

Jenna Rzasa, Vice President, Manager of Finance and member of the Board of Directors, has over 18 years of concentrated water system experience with specialized expertise in water system design. She holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and has been with the firm since she graduated. Her experience includes new source development, water system analysis, and water audits using the AWWA M36 methodology.

Justine Carroll, Project Manager, has 10 years of concentrated experience in water system modeling, holds a BS in Environmental Engineering and an MS in Environmental and Water Resource Engineering from Tufts University, and has been with the firm since she graduated. She is the Team Leader for the Hydraulics Group and is certified in WaterGEMS and InfoWater modeling software as well as in ESRI – ArcGIS Desktop II and III. Justine is also actively involved in Special Olympics and volunteers her time as a swim coach.

Amanda Cavaliere, Project Manager, has over 16 years of concentrated experience in water and wastewater engineering and holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Roger Williams University. She has been with the firm for 13 years and she is the Team Leader for the Wastewater Group. A seasoned expert in water and wastewater engineering, Amanda has worked on numerous wastewater treatment plants, water mains, and evaluations throughout New England.

Our Female Engineers

Molly Coughlin is a LEED Green Associate and is OSHA Confined Spaces Entry certified
Marie Rivers holds an MS in Environmental Engineering from UMass Amherst and passed her Massachusetts Professional Engineer exam in 2015
Marie Rivers holds an MS in Environmental Engineering from UMass Amherst and passed her Massachusetts Professional Engineer exam in 2015

In addition to Karen, Jenna, Justine, and Amanda, we have many other talented female engineers throughout the company. Melissa Leach, Project Manager in our St. Johnsbury, Vermont office, has over 20 years of engineering experience and holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Washington University. Project Engineer Valli Sukuru from our Waterbury, Connecticut office has over eight years of water engineering experience and holds an MS in Civil Engineering from University of Texas at San Antonio and a BS in Civil Engineering from National Institute of Technology in Warangal, India; and Project Engineer Meghan Dineen from our Lakeville, Massachusetts office has been with the firm since 2008, when she graduated from University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass Amherst) with a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering. We also have women at the Assistant Project Engineer and Engineer levels who are valued members of the team and make significant contributions to the water, wastewater, stormwater, and environmental engineering consulting services the firm provides.

Tata & Howard is proud of our extensive engineering talent base, both male and female, and we look forward to meeting — and hiring — the girls and young women of today who will become the engineering stars of tomorrow. Happy National Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day!

Engineering Week: Thursday, February 20 Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Thomas Edison. Alexander Graham Bell. These are household names, engineers well known for their brilliant inventions. But how many female engineers can you think of? Throughout modern history there have been many female engineers who have contributed to the advancement of society. As we celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a part of Engineering Week, we’d like to familiarize you with three pioneers in women’s engineering, and to introduce you to a few of Tata & Howard’s own female engineers.

Three Amazing Female Engineers in History

Stephanie Louise Kwolek (born 1923)

stephCountless law enforcement and military personnel owe their lives to Stephanie Louise Kowlek, who discovered liquid crystalline polymers while working for DuPont. The result? Kevlar. Kevlar contains fibers that are five times stronger than steel, does not rust or corrode, and is extremely lightweight. Kevlar is best known for its use in the bulletproof vest, but it is also used for fiber optic cables, airplane fuselages, brake linings, boats, parachutes, skis, building materials, and radial tires. Ultimately obtaining 28 patents during her 40 year career, Kowlek was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995, received the National Medal of Technology in 1996, was awarded The Perkin Medal by The American Chemical Society in 1997, and was named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003.

Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)

hedyHedy Lamarr is best known as a beautiful and sought-after movie star of the 1930’s and 1940’s, but she was actually a whole lot more. Lamarr invented a remote-controlled communications system for the United States military during World War II. Originally from Austria and born of Jewish parents, Lamarr was deeply troubled by Nazi attacks. When German submarines began torpedoing passenger liners, she said, “I’ve got to invent something that will put a stop to that.” Lamarr came up with “frequency hopping,” an electronics radio system that would enable Allied submarines to avoid signal jamming from enemies, thus allowing far more successful allied torpedo attacks. In later years, Lamarr’s “frequency hopping” is what made cell phones, Wi-Fi, and other wireless developments possible.

Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972)

lillianThere’s a common saying that necessity is the mother of invention, and it seems to have been coined with Lillian Moller in mind. Moller is known as the “mother of modern management” due to her education, scientific nature – and being the mother of 12 children! Along with her husband Frank, Lillian’s life is the basis for the books “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Belles on Their Toes,” written by two of their children about life in the Gilbreth household. Frank and Lillian sought endlessly to find the “one best way” to perform any task in order to increase efficiency and productivity. These studies are called time and motion studies, and are still applied today in Lean Manufacturing practices.

After her husband died of a heart attack in 1924, Lillian wrote four books and taught industrial engineering courses at various prestigious schools including Bryn Mawr and Purdue. President Hoover asked her to join the Emergency Committee for Unemployment during the Great Depression, and she worked as a consultant for the government during World War II. Lillian is credited with many inventions, including the foot-pedal trashcan, the electric mixer, the L-shaped kitchen, and refrigerator door shelves.

During her lifetime, Lillian Gilbreth received many honors. She became the first female member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1926, she was the first woman to be elected into the National Academy of Engineering, and she was also issued the very first membership in the Society of Women Engineers.

Tata & Howard’s Female Phenoms

shiraTata & Howard boasts some brilliant female engineers as well. As a firm, we employ a much higher percentage of female engineers than is the industry norm. Shira A. McWaters, P.E., pictured at right and who has been with the firm since its inception over 20 years ago, is an Associate and manages our Arizona office. Two of our six members of the Board of Directors are women, Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E. In addition, we have many other female engineers at all levels throughout the organization, and their contributions to the firm are invaluable. Last week, we were able to stop some of Tata & Howard’s female engineers just long enough to pose for a photo. Pictured left to right are Jennifer Fruzzetti, Jenna Rzasa, Patricia Fox, Amanda Cavaliere, Hayley Franz, Vicki Zabierek, Justine Carroll, Marie Rivers, and Karen Gracey.

female engineers at THEngineering still tends to be a male-dominated field, and young girls are often overlooked even when their abilities clearly point to engineering. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is intended to bring awareness of the engineering profession to school-aged girls, and to encourage them in pursuing a career in the field. During engineering week, there are many special events across the country in which young girls can participate. Check out your local engineering universities for events. For online resources, visit or for fun activities and ideas to introduce the young girls in your life to engineering.

Women engineers have brought us not only the bulletproof vest and the basis for wireless technology, but also disposable diapers, windshield wipers, the compiler (which translates English into computer code), signal flares, noise cancellation technology, air pollution mitigation technology, and the Brooklyn Bridge – what could be next? Introduce a girl to engineering, and the possibilities are endless.