Tech @ Work Updates

Events , Girls' Programs , Working Woman Wednesday | Nov 11, 2019 | Back to List

Tech @ Work is a monthly speaker series hosted by Vermont Works for Women and the Burlington Tech Center. The program is designed to introduce high school students to gender diverse professionals in non-traditional career fields.


Tech @ Work: Auto Body Repair on Thursday, February 20, 2020

Erika Rouille

Vermont Works for Women was pleased to welcome Erika Rouille, a Paint Specialist at O’Reilly Auto Parts, as the Tech @ Work speaker for students in the Auto Body Repair program. Erika graduated from the Auto Technology program at BTC in 2004, before going on to attend Ohio Technical College for Auto Body Repair in Cleveland, OH.

Erika shared that she was the only girl in her Auto Tech program at BTC, and one of only 12 women out of 1800 students at Ohio Technical College. Nevertheless, she stuck with what she loved, and went on to work for 10 years as a painter in two major Auto Body Shops.

“You’re going to face challenges; it’s going to be about your attitude.” [In reference to being a non-traditional candidate in the field] – Erika

Now, she manages paint orders and offers technical support to companies and individuals. Erika said that helping customers is her favorite part of her job. She likes knowing that she can help someone else figure out the solution to their problem – she knows the paint and she communicates well, and people can rely on her to provide the right answer.

Auto Repair shop

Erika emphasized the benefits of working in the auto field, noting that auto education is affordable and the industry fulfills an ongoing need in people’s lives. She also gave the students some advice as they continue with the first part of their auto education. She told them that painting is a learning experience – the students will make mistakes, but that’s okay and will help them learn the techniques. Ultimately, they should do what they love.

If they love Auto Body Repair, they should keep working on it and it will be a rewarding career.

Thank you, Erika, for joining us as a Tech @ Work speaker!


Tech @ Work: Design and Illustration Tech on Monday, February 10, 2020

Carolyn Bauer

Vermont Works for Women was pleased to welcome Carolyn Bauer, an Associate Curator from the Shelburne Museum, as the Tech @ Work speaker for Burlington Tech Center’s Design & Illustration program on Monday, February 10th.

Carolyn described her work to students, including her roles of caring for the museum’s permanent art collection, designing new exhibits, doing press releases, and publishing articles. Carolyn has curated over 12 exhibits, each of which takes about three years to coordinate from start to finish. Carolyn noted that an exhibit on puppets was a particularly challenging one for her to plan, as she did not have much previous knowledge on the topic. This meant that she had to do extensive research on the history and art of puppetry in order to plan the exhibit’s design and choose the best pieces to display. However, across all exhibits, Carolyn noted that the paint selection for the walls is one of the hardest aspects of preparing exhibits, and typically occurs 8-12 months before the exhibit opens.

Speaking of the art world more broadly, Carolyn shared information on gender inequalities within art careers. Although women make up about 50% of the career field, there is still a significant gender wage gap, with the average female curator making at least $20,000 less than their male counterparts. As with many fields, sexual harassment claims have also recently surfaced after the #MeToo movement. Then, even though there is gender equality among curators, there is still a large gender disparity when considering the artists whose works are displayed in museums.

Carolyn recognizes this and tries to incorporate artwork by female artists into the exhibits that she designs.

“I am incredibly grateful for the path that brought me to my dream job of working as an art curator. Some of the most formative memories from my youth were formed visiting art museums. I loved spending time in the quiet galleries, contemplating minute details about the fine art in front of me—I was especially drawn to the works and biographies of talented female artists. I hope to, in turn, inspire future generations of creatives through exhibitions I am organizing.” 

Finally, Carolyn shared figures to show the typical career advancement and salaries for being a curator. She noted that it is a competitive field – only around 10 jobs open per year, per art specialty – but that it is worth it for those that have a passion and love for the arts.

Thank you, Carolyn, for joining us as a Tech @ Work speaker!


Tech @ Work: Aviation and Aerospace Tech on Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Desiree Cerretani

Vermont Works for Women was pleased to welcome Desiree Cerretani, a Senior Operations Manager at Collins Aerospace, as the Tech @ Work speaker for Burlington Tech Center’s Aviation & Aerospace Technology program. Desiree started at Collins Aerospace as a Mechanical Engineer before moving to her current role as an Operations Manager of two teams, the Electric Brakes and the Tank Units (fuel systems) teams. Desiree said that she became interested in aviation out of a desire to keep people safe. Collins Aerospace designs and manufactures equipment for planes, helicopters, and missiles, and Desiree emphasized the importance of making sure that each piece of equipment that the company produces is reliable, durable, and of high quality.

Burlington Tech Center’s Aviation & Aerospace Technology program

Desiree also discussed some of the challenges that she encounters. For example, Collins Aerospace’s overseas clients have occasionally acquired and used contaminated fuel and oil, which degrades the quality of the aircraft’s fuel systems faster than on average. The engineers must then devise a method for bettering the fuel systems so that they remain in good order even when exposed to contaminations. This is particularly challenging though, as they are not always able to identify the contaminants and various additives affect the fuel systems differently. Then, as Operations Manager, Desiree considers how the production process can be improved. She spoke of creating a more efficient production process after asking the staff on her teams what they needed to be successful, and supporting them in attaining those needs.

Lastly, Desiree gave students advice and encouraged them to take advantage of new opportunities and to work in a field that they love. Thank you, Desiree, for joining us as a Tech @ Work speaker!

Bottom line: Be happy in what you do and you will succeed.


Tech @ Work: Design Tech on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Kristi Herzer

Vermont Works for Women was pleased to welcome Kristi Herzer, an Environmental Analyst for the Department of Environmental Conservation, as the Tech @ Work speaker for the Design Tech program at Burlington Tech Center.

Kristi described her work on the Brownfields Response Team – “brownfields” are any sites or plots of land that have real or perceived contamination on the property – including managing about 50 projects, reading reports, talking to current and prospective property owners, and researching the history of properties. Kristi noted that historical sites, industrial factories, and, oddly, dry cleaners are more likely to have contamination on their sites. Regionally, too, there are certain areas that are more likely to have contamination. For example, the soil in the Old North End in Burlington tends to have some level of lead contamination from the historical use of lead paint there.

Kristi discussed the benefits of cleaning up brownfield sites, such as protecting people’s health and enabling businesses to redevelop sites instead of generating further city sprawl. Kristi showed the students a resource called the Natural Resource Atlas, which allows the public to view any hazardous sites or brownfields on a map of Vermont, as well as to check the status of the clean-up of the brownfields.

Yellow diamonds are hazardous sites and green pentagons are brownfields

Thank you, Kristi, for an in-depth and enriching presentation!


Tech @ Work: Digital Media Lab on Wednesday, December 11

On Wednesday, December 11th, Dana Steinhoff and Megan McAvoy from Rad Magpie came to the Burlington Technical Center to speak to students from the Digital Media Lab, Design and Illustration, and Design Tech programs.

Megan McAvoy and Dana Steinhoff

Dana and Megan discussed the importance of the mission at Rad Magpie, a nonprofit video game studio, to create video games that portray strong character leads from all gender, race, and ethnic backgrounds. They showed the students a prototype video game on which their team is currently working. The video game follows the story line of a Sri Lankan character, and Megan pointed out the multiple design and sound technology elements that were involved in creating the video game. Both Dana and Megan shared how they got involved in video game design, and Dana elaborated on the challenges encountered from managing a start-up company.

Thank you, Megan and Dana, for participating in Tech @ Work!


Tech @ Work: Criminal Justice on Monday, December 9

Trooper Katrina Ducharme

Trooper Katrina Ducharme from the Vermont State Police joined Criminal Justice students at the Burlington Technical Center as a speaker for Tech @ Work on December 9th.

Trooper Ducharme shared her experience as a trooper with the students, including challenges faced in the field as a woman, person of color, and an English Language Learner. Trooper Ducharme began her law enforcement career in the Williston Police Department and then moved to the Brandon Police Department before starting in her current role with the Vermont State Police. In both Williston and Brandon, she was the only woman in the police department. In the Vermont State Police, she is one of 36 women out of 322 troopers and is the only Indian.

Trooper Ducharme noted that oftentimes she encounters prejudice from community members based on her race and/or gender, and that she believes the best way to manage these encounters is through making connections and talking to people in a forward and professional manner. Trooper Ducharme said that her ultimate goal is to become the first female Colonel in the Vermont State Police.

Trooper Ducharme with Burlington Technical Center students

Thank you, Trooper Ducharme, for sharing your experiences with us!


Tech @ Work: Culinary Arts on Monday, November 4

Leslie McCrorey Wells

Today, VWW was delighted to welcome Leslie McCrorey Wells, co-owner of Pizzeria Verità, Trattoria Delia, and Sotto Enoteca, as the Tech @ Work presenter for the Culinary Arts students at BTC. Leslie described how she first considered careers in theater and history education before coming to realize her passion for the restaurant industry. Leslie joined with her current business partner to open Pizzeria Verità in 2012, and they have since expanded to co-own three Italian restaurants on St. Paul Street.

Leslie discussed the difficulties of owning a restaurant, including handling unexpected expenses with a small profit margin of only 4-6%, balancing wage disparities between front-of-house and back-of-house employees, and adapting to accommodate the needs of 75 different employees. Yet, despite these difficulties, Leslie shared significant business successes: one of her businesses saw sales totaling $2 million last year, she has strong management teams at each of the restaurants, and she has successfully cultivated a restaurant philosophy that provides excellent customer service and values every employee.

Leslie is an inspiring business owner with years of experience, and we are grateful to her for sharing her story!

Special thanks to our Tech@Work partner,
Burlington Technical Center!

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