Josie Suter talks to the Courier about the Engineering & Technology Club and her love for STEM


Photo was provided by Josie Suter

Josie Suter, president of the Engineering and Technology Club

Vandy Manyeh, News Editor

Last week, in between getting ready for finals, classes and tutoring, Josie Suter, the president of the Engineering & Technology Club had a one-on-one conversation with the Courier about issues pertinent to her club. Suter also had some tips for students struggling with their grades but would like to pursue a  degree in a STEM-related field.

Vandy Manyeh: What is your major?

Josie Suter: I’m majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I wasn’t set on what engineering field I wanted to pursue when I started college, and that’s a large reason I chose College of DuPage.

VM: What led you to pursue a degree in a STEM-related field?

JS: First off, I’m a gigantic nerd. I love Math. Calculus was the first course that really interested me, and I had heard that you could use it in Physics and in other applications. I specifically like engineering because it is a very creative, problem-solving heavy field compared to other STEM fields.

VM: Last summer, you had the opportunity to intern at Argonne National Laboratory.  How exciting was that?

Josie Suter (middle), after she completed her summer internship at ANL

JS: I loved it! My internship was more geared toward research than it was to engineering. My full-time work over the summer was preparing a lecture about my research to be given at the end of the summer. I got to network and learn about many different fields of research during my time at Argonne. I’m so grateful to have been hired on as a co-op.

VM: Where do you see yourself years from now after school?

JS: Some of the goals aren’t engineering-related at all. I want to be fluent in Spanish and move to a different country. I also see myself as the leader of a company or an organization. I am also extremely interested in communication and teamwork.

VM: What’s happening at the Engineering and Technology club?

JS: A very big part of the club is the robotics competitions. We compete in two competitions: the Midwestern Robotics Design Competition and the NASA Robotics Mining competition. We also do a lot of STEM-related outreach targeting elementary and high schoolers in our community. In particular, we organize Engineering Olympics with COD’s STEM coordinator, and we are beginning STEM outreach events of our own because we have the resources to do so. This year we are designing several all-new outreach events for homeschoolers. On top of that, we began monthly speaker nights, increased our professional networking opportunities, and created a team to compete at a Rube Goldberg competition. One of the officers really enjoyed doing them in high school. So he took the lead and brought together a team. The goal of the competition is to make a complicated machine that accomplishes a simple task. It’s more of a fun anti-engineering competition. The purpose of engineering is to increase efficiency and decrease complexity, but for competitions like Rube, you may have to open an umbrella or squeeze a tube of toothpaste with a series of simple machines. We have an awesome group this year and are accomplishing a ton!

VM: What are some tips for success as an aspiring engineer?

JS: A huge tip is to go outside of your bubble and talk to other students. We are all going through the same classes, and they are difficult, even impossible to get through by yourself. If you reach out and collaborate, you have the opportunity to network and learn more than you would have otherwise.

VM: What opportunities are available to students enrolled in a STEM-related program at COD?

JS: There are a handful of STEM clubs so I don’t know why you won’t join if you were in a STEM program. We have the Biotechnology club, the Engineering & Technology Club, Society of Women in Engineering, Physics Club and the Astronomy Club. Joining those is a great way to network and get experience on your resume that will help you in the future. On top of all that, you have amazing teachers who care about your success in and out of their class. They really care that you are getting the subject material and the smaller class sizes aid in their ability to do so. Getting to know them give you an advantage because they have the valuable connections that you don’t and can help you start your career.

VM: I would like to pursue a degree in a STEM-related field. At the same time, I am struggling with my grades. What can I do?

JS: You are going to fail at some point. The people who get through are the people who are able to overcome those struggles and keep moving forward. It’s not going to be easy. If you get through, that’s showing people that you can do it even if you don’t pursue a STEM field. Even if you fail a class or two, just keep going.

VM: We have a huge STEM gap nationally and at COD. As a student, what are ways in which you think we can bridge that gap?

JS: It is a cycle difficult to break. I didn’t really see people that I could look up to that were female in engineering. Without seeing my dad as a role model, pursuing engineering probably wouldn’t have ever occurred to me. I don’t think it should be easier for people to get into engineering based on their gender. You still need the same academic rigor and work ethic to get through school no matter what gender you are. However, I think there should be a better way for female students to get connected and interested in the field. If I hadn’t joined SWE, I wouldn’t have met some of the amazing people that I know. It is really helpful to have that kind of support group to talk to each other, study together, and network.

VM: Any final words?

JS: It is nice to work and do activities outside of school. Even as a STEM student with school being so difficult, sometimes you need to just have fun doing what you love even if it’s extra work. It is important to make choices that will make you happy in the long term. A lot of people choose STEM because they think they will make a lot of money, but you won’t get through if you aren’t super passionate. I’ll exhaust myself by staying up all night doing problems, studying for a test, or planning something for Engineering Club, but I do it because I truly love it. I wouldn’t be able to handle my schedule if I wasn’t passionate about everything that I do.