Lee McGetrick manages people – usually projects and project teams – to accomplish technical challenges and solve difficult problems. She recently led a project to design, build, and start up a carbon fiber technology demonstration facility the length of a football field.
1) What inspired you to work in STEM?
I had a high school teacher who loved physics and made it fun. I loved understanding how the world works and why.
Lee attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, earning a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering.
2) What excites you about your work at the Department of Energy?
Working with people from all over the world with all sorts of different backgrounds, educations, and experiences to solve problems. And, learning new things all the time.
Lee manages people – usually projects and project teams – to accomplish technical challenges and solve difficult problems. For example, “How can we safely and affordably decommission and demolish this 65-year old contaminated building?” Some of the projects she has managed involved installing a new capability or facility. She recently led a project to design, build, and start up a carbon fiber technology demonstration facility the length of a football field.
3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
As families, communities and states, we must work together to provide role models for our young people and create opportunities for higher education, regardless of the field of study. Aspects of STEM-related skills apply to almost everything we do in work, play, and life. As a country, we should make education a priority and use our tax dollars to support education reforms. I am a big fan of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise program, which encourages high school graduates to begin with a two-year technical degree by providing supplemental funding. This program enables Tennessee students who work hard at school and within their communities to obtain a two-year degree essentially free of charge. And in some cases, these students continue on to earn advanced degrees.
4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
Practice good study habits. For me, starting in grade school, I would always do my homework assignments before the next class started. I did the same at university, whenever I could. Do it while it is fresh on your mind, and study for exams by writing out problems and material you need to remember.
5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading fiction novels — science fiction, fantasy and suspense — and playing the guitar, and singing. I also enjoy walking, boating, paddle boarding, and an occasional night at the movies.