A working mom whose ambition is as big as her home state of Texas was selected as the 2004 New Face of Engineering during National Engineers Week. Rachel Stender is one of 16 young engineers profiled as a New Face of Engineering, a program that spotlights the contributions emerging professionals make to their communities. Rachel fulfills many roles: wife, mother, civil engineer, adjunct professor and community leader.
Leading by example, she is showing others that women are able to succeed in both traditional and nontraditional fields. A project engineer with the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, Rachael became the first registered female engineer in the 77-year history of the Port when she recently received her licensure. Her responsibilities with the Port include design, construction and management of capital and maintenance projects through the Port. Rachel is currently overseeing construction of a new water taxi landing, a $1.9 million project intended to provide alternate transportation in the arts and museum district in the city. She also supervised the demolition of a warehouse for a minor league baseball stadium.
In addition to working as project engineer, Rachel is an adjunct professor at Del Mar College, teaching a business logistics course for a newly developed advanced management certification in supply chain management. In 1998, Rachel completed reserve duty in the U.S. Air Force as a civil engineering officer with the 307th RED HORSE Unit, a mobile, rapid-response construction unit. As a reservist, she spearheaded the creation of an office within her unit dedicated to environmental issues. Her most recent accomplishment came in May 2003 when she earned her MBA from Texas A & M University - Corpus Christi. Rachel completed her MBA coursework with a 4.0 GPA, earned through hard work and many nights studying at the local McDonald's as she watched her two young daughters play in the restaurant play area. Rachel also holds a B.S. in civil engineering from University of Arkansas - Fayetteville.
An emerging community leader, Rachel is currently in the 32nd Leadership Corpus Christi Class, a year-long leadership program designed to increase awareness and diversity among Corpus Christi's talented young professionals. Rachel is also a Texas A&M-CC FUSE member and student mentor, a program designed to further minority interest in science and engineering fields.
"Civil engineering is a great profession," says Stender. "It is important to be a positive influence on people who wouldn't necessarily look at careers in civil engineering."
Stender's accomplishments are inspiring and unique considering that women engineers remain woefully underrepresented in their fields. According to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, only 9.5 percent of civil engineers, 7.1 percent of mechanical engineers, 10.1 percent of electrical engineers, 11.5 percent of aerospace engineers, 16.3 percent of chemical engineers and 16.8 percent of industrial engineers are women. Furthermore, according to a survey from the National Science Foundation, women account for just 19.7 percent of enrollment in undergraduate engineering programs nationwide.
Source: ASCE, March 17, 2004