STEM Week 2020

Every year, Solebury School's math and science departments celebrate the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math by hosting STEM-related events, activities, and guest speakers. The week is meant not only to engage the entire school with those subjects, but also to inspire thinking about STEM-related careers. Seniors: If you are interested in pursuing a potential Senior Project with any of our STEM guests, please follow up with Math Dept. Head Britta Milks or Science Dept. Head Cari Nelson.

Monday, October 19

Evie McMenamin is an Environmental Scientist with EcolSciences, Inc. As an environmental consultant she has specialized in the field of natural resources including rare, threatened, and endangered species habitat management and surveying, construction monitoring, project permitting, and general environmental compliance. She discussed various jobs that involve working with wildlife and how to prepare for a career with wildlife. She also shared where, when and what to look for when trying to find certain wildlife along with resources and apps anyone can use for identification and documentation. If looking for a career with wildlife Evie shared, “The best place to start is going to local parks or going to events. Getting to know the park staff will be really beneficial and volunteering is a great way to gain experience.”


Tuesday, October 20

Honors physics was joined by David Everett, Nasa Senior Engineer for OSIRIS-REx. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is traveling to the asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will determine Bennu’s physical and chemical properties, which will be critical to know in the event of an impact mitigation mission. David shared that there is a 1 in 2,700 chance of an Earth impact in the late 22nd century. He also discussed the key objectives of the mission which include mapping the asteroid, documenting the sample site, measuring the orbit caused by non-gravitational forces, and comparing observations.


Dr. Laura M. Mercer is a pediatric cardiologist at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. In a Zoom talk with our chemistry students, Dr. Mercer shared her professional journey and how her personal journey impacted it. A native of Brazil, Dr. Mercer early on became interested in science after reading a book about Marie Curie and was inspired by her father, a doctor and director of a hospital. She trained early in the medical profession and was drawn to helping children. “Kids can’t always tell us what hurts or what’s wrong with them.” Students learned the mechanics of the heart and studied echocardiograms of heart defects, learning the various challenges and treatments. Dr. Mercer ended her talk by honoring her mentors and telling the students, “If you work hard, the sky's the limit.”

Jonah Mania ’13 is a Software Engineer at Tesla. He talked about his time at Solebury, reflecting on the different classes he took and how he thought his path would lead toward music but went on to major in computer science at Stevens Institute of Technology. Jonah discussed what his work for Tesla is like sharing his days involve writing code and building applications.

Marcy Engleman, Mütter Museum Educator, talked to anatomy students via Zoom about Anthropology giving an exciting presentation called Bone Detectives. She compared CSI’s seen on TV to real-life CSI’s pointing out what is accurately portrayed and what isn’t actually part of their job. Marcy walked through the procedures of happens when bones are found and how to determine the biological profile of human bones. Students looked at a variety of skulls to determine age, sex, and ancestry and analyzed femurs to determine stature.

Wednesday, October 21

Michael Bilder is a FEMA Hurricane Program Manager for Region 3. At FEMA, he is constantly planning disaster scenarios which has earned him the nickname “Dr. Doom” by his colleagues. He discussed the threats associated with hurricanes such as rainfall, wind, tornadoes, and storm surge. He shared that this year there has been a heavy amount of storms causing them to run out of names and move to the Greek alphabet. As of now we have reached Epsilon and are almost tying with 2005 which reached Zeta. For anyone interested in learning more about tropical storms and hurricanes Michael recommended Isaac’s Storm A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson.


Thursday, October 22

Alexander Kazantsev, Embedded Software Engineer with Ghost Robotics, shared videos of legged robots that he is helping to develop. Designed to work well in any terrain, these robots can be employed in situations that could be unsafe for humans and unstable for wheeled robots, such as chemical plant inspections. He explained the concept of the inverted pendulum and how this is at the root of robotics. Kazantsev helped students understand what he does as an Embedded Software Engineer and how he got here (hint: it started with video games).

Mohan Gurunathan is an engineer who founded the nonprofit Respiratory Emergency Device (RED). The organization was created to design a low-cost ventilator during Covid-19. Having previously worked on a ventilator project for 5 years, he felt compelled to help. Mohan explained to students the differences between the iron lung used for Polio and the ventilators used for Covid-19. He also walked students through the design process and what background information is needed when creating a ventilator.



Friday, October 23

Craig Bloom has a background in civil and electrical engineering and is a Construction Site Coordinator at FirstEnergy. His main responsibilities include ensuring workers are working safely, being a liaison between the field crews and the design engineer team, and developing field installation schedule. He shared with students that he has always liked building things, being outside, and dealing with computers so he knew early on what career path he wanted to pursue. Craig also gave an overview of the different areas of engineering and what the path to those careers is like. 

Mark Engel has been founding and building life sciences companies in China since 1990 including most recently Phagelux and Phagelux AgriHealth, which both utilize bacteriophages, lysins, and other biological antibacterial solutions to create HumanHealth and AgriHealth products, particularly focusing on antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Mark shared that a visit to a burn ward, where patients have a 40% antibiotic resistance, is what helped put him on this path. He thought there must be a solution and turned to biology. He also talked about how Phagelux Pharmaceuticals lead product, currently in clinical trials, will hopefully help to reduce those numbers.  

Joseph Kohles P’23 is the Chief Medical Officer at Envision. Some of his key responsibilities are providing direction for the development of medical strategy for clients, provide peer-to-peer contact, and aid in the development/optimization of new technology solutions. Joe talked to students about the pharmaceutical industry and gave an overview of the process for new products. When giving advice to those interested in pursuing this path he shared, “You need to have curiosity/wonder, persistence, and good foundations...everyone’s path is different.”

James Sterling, a cyber security expert, talked with our students about this growing field. He shared eye opening information about how hackers can access our personal information. Many hackers can access a bank account by simply using the information available on a public Facebook profile. James gave an informative overview of what the job of cyber security expert entails, how to get these jobs, and what the pinnacle of his field is: becoming a “white hat hacker” who gets paid to try to break into the company's computers to shed light on security weaknesses. James ended his talk with helpful steps that we all can take to keep our information safe.

Explore previous STEM Weeks

STEM Week 2019
STEM Week 2018
STEM Week 2017