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Women @ Energy: Pam Richmond

June 18, 2014 - 3:24pm


Argonne internet project manager Pam Richmond designs websites and e-learning to support programs in environmental remediation.

Argonne internet project manager Pam Richmond designs websites and e-learning to support programs in environmental remediation.

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Pam Richmond is an internet project manager in the Environmental Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. For over 15 years, Pam has managed, designed, and developed websites and online learning to support programs in the areas of environmental remediation, decision support, and public outreach. She designs web-based tools with the end user in mind, striving to communicate technical information to a range of audiences in a compelling way. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and her Master of Science degree in computer information systems.

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

My first experience with computers was a BASIC programming class in middle school. I immediately connected with the idea of developing computer code to solve a problem. The logic and hands-on problem solving of programming appealed to me. I got a computer at home and began using handheld scanners, a VHS camera to capture video stills, and doing anything else I could with it.

In college, I majored in computer science and minored in art. My advisor introduced me to an internship opportunity at Argonne where I started using computers for a variety of tasks. Those tasks started out simply but eventually evolved into developing multimedia compact discs and websites. As it turned out, my interest in both computers and art was perfectly suited for e-learning and web development.

2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?

I enjoy working on a wide range of projects in a variety of scientific areas. I have worked on informational kiosks, renewable energy projects, public outreach sites, e-learning courses, and project support portals. I get to do so many things that I enjoy—system architecture, programming, database design, and graphic design. I’ve had the opportunity to work on projects that have benefitted the environment and society as a whole.

3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

I think we need to encourage failure, not for the sake of failure, but to discover how to learn from it and succeed in spite of it. So many people don’t take a chance because they think they won’t succeed. I think we also need to show that STEM careers can be very rewarding in many ways.

4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Make the most of internships and volunteer opportunities. This is how I discovered the direction in which I wanted to take my computer science career. Don’t be afraid to do something challenging. Anything can seem hard until you learn how to do it. Dive in and figure it out, step-by-step if necessary. No one was born a computer scientist—he or she worked hard to become one. In technology, professional growth should be a lifelong goal because it changes so quickly. Learning is the most exciting part of my job.

5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

I enjoy reading, watercolor painting, photography, and crafts. I spend as much time as possible with my husband and daughter, whom I encourage to learn and grow and try new things.