“The world is changing so fast these days, from technology to climate to energy to politics; we don’t really know what challenges the next generation will face and what tools will exist to help solve them,” said SFPUC Civil Engineer, Madelyn C. Rubin. “A STEM education focuses on how to learn, a skill that is relevant no matter what that future looks like.”
For Rubin, an education in STEM is critical to making a difference and offers the tools to improve the world. As a Civil Engineer at Hetch Hetchy Water and Power, her typical day varies. Some weeks she is mostly at her desk working on a design or researching a project. Other times, she is out in the field for inspections or construction. To Rubin, this balance allows for productive work and a breath of fresh air.
In addition to her daytime work responsibilities, Rubin enjoys participating in the annual Dinner with a Scientist event. “This event, and others like it, directly supports local young people in their education and demonstrates how fun STEM related fields can be,” shared Rubin. “Kids are so impressionable and it’s refreshing to see their level of curiosity and excitement. I am personally passionate about inspiring those qualities and finding ways to encourage exploring them.”
As one of several female engineers in the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power department based in Moccasin, Rubin advises middle and high school students to be open to a career in the utilities industry. For her, the utility industry is the foundation of a healthy and thriving society.
“They serve the community by providing essential infrastructure such as water and power while focusing on public health and environmental impacts,” she said. “We need more innovative and creative thinkers to provide sustainable solutions in order to continue the growth and resilience of our communities. It’s a great option for anyone interested in solving problems that have a direct impact on a local or global level.”
Rubin believes the annual Dinner with a Scientist event is important because it is organized around supporting students and their teachers. One of her first observations as an event volunteer was experiencing that student and teacher relationship.
“Teachers join at the tables and engage in the conversation along with the kids, encouraging their questions and reassuring their confidence. I had an eighth grade math teacher who provided that kind of indirect mentorship, so I can first-hand respect how influential that role can be in a young person’s life. This event is an opportunity to support local educators in how they can impact their students,” shared Rubin.
Rubin shared that she continues to participate in this event because it exposes students to career opportunities within their own community and offers a perspective of what can be possible, even in a small town.