Kathryn McGee operates robot in competition
Augusta High School student Kathryn McGee, second from right, operates a robot used in robotic competitions at the 2019 Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Introduce a Girl to Engineering event held in Aiken, South Carolina.

AIKEN, S.C. – In 2019, North Augusta High School student Kathryn McGee volunteered for an EM contractor’s outreach program that introduces female students to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

She’s now a newly hired Savannah River Site (SRS) engineer and recently volunteered to serve again for the next Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” program event.

In her first time partaking in the program, McGee and her two friends represented the 2019 North Augusta Robotics Club and demonstrated how to build and operate robots. The event was held at the Ruth Patrick Science Center on the University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) campus.

“I really enjoyed it,” said McGee. “And it was there that I realized that explaining the importance of engineering as a career, particularly for women, was very rewarding. In fact, during my final years at Clemson (University), I gave tours to prospective students around campus that promoted engineering.”

Kathryn McGee working at computer
Kathryn McGee working in a full-time engineering position at the Savannah River Site.

The North Augusta, South Carolina, native confirmed her lifelong desire to be an engineer through an internship and then an apprenticeship at SRS.

During fall 2021, McGee began working with Savannah River Tritium Enterprise (SRTE) Engineering as an apprentice. Shortly thereafter, she accepted an offer with SRTE’s Reservoir Systems Engineering group as a full-time employee.

“It’s been a great experience learning about the missions of SRS throughout my internship and apprenticeship opportunity,” said McGee. “The Savannah River Site is a totally different world than most companies and is unlike anything else in the U.S. I’m grateful I had this opportunity as a student to get my foot in the door. I understand so much more than if I had just hired on. It made that transition from student to employee much easier.”

McGee said she always knew that one day she would join the workforce at SRS.

“I don’t see myself working anywhere else,” she said.

The Introduce a Girl to Engineering program encourages eighth grade girls to consider careers in engineering, science and technology. In celebration of Nuclear Science Week, SRNS Education Outreach is coordinating this year’s event on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, USC Aiken.

“Statistically, females are highly underrepresented in STEM fields. This event provides an opportunity for local eighth grade girls to be mentored by female engineers, scientists and information technology professionals from the Savannah River Site through a variety of hands-on activities to showcase all the exciting career paths that we have to offer,” said SRNS Education Outreach Specialist Taylor Rice.

-Contributor: Mackenzie McNabb