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: 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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