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Youth Programs’ Engineers Featured in Newsletter

Friday, June 02, 2017

UNCW’s Engineering Expectations program is designed to hook kids on engineering by engaging them in creative thinking and out-of-the-box problem solving. Engineering Expectations now offers more than 20 summer programs for youth ages 4-14, Saturday programs throughout the school year and Engineering On-the-Go programs for schools in the region.

Kathy Ibbotson and Jasmine Gaston, the engineers who develop and teach UNCW’s engineering programs for youth, were featured in Youth Programs’ spring 2017 newsletter. The story is reprinted in its entirety here.

Did you know that UNCW Engineering Expectations programs are developed and taught by two engineers? Kathy Ibbotson, a chemical engineer, and Jasmine Gaston, a mechanical engineer, both work full-time to bring high-quality engineering programs to youth in the Wilmington area. They both have years of experience working as engineers and provide the students with genuine and authentic engineering knowledge that they can’t get anywhere else!

Jasmine Gaston

Jasmine is a proud Army brat who has lived in 10 states and two countries. She decided to take her talents out of state and studied mechanical engineering at the top-ranked North Carolina State University. As a student, she attained internships with Duke Energy and helped her senior design team win second place for their automatic design of an electric vehicle charging station for Schneider Electric. In addition, Jasmine graduated as the only African American female in her department. She proceeded to work for Avery Dennison Corporation, a global leader in adhesive technologies and packaging materials, as a project engineer. In her several years of professional engineering experience, she optimized a global manufacturing process and assisted in the development of new RFID products. Also, while at Avery, she had the unique opportunity to work internationally, traveling between Guangzhou, China and Juarez, Mexico for almost a year.

The lack of diversity in the professional engineering field challenged Jasmine to transition into the education industry. With a goal to increase minority representation in engineering and improve student comprehension within STEM, Jasmine aspires to impact students as a professor and positive role mole. Last summer, she had a rewarding internship with the National Society of Black Engineers as the site director of two Denver SEEK programs. Now in a permanent role with UNCW’s Youth Programs, Jasmine is excited to provide K-12 students with a productive engineering engagement. In addition to creating and facilitating engineering programs, Jasmine will be pursuing an M.S. in mathematics at UNCW and will serve on the board of the Region O Council for the Advancement of Minorities in Engineering. 

Kathy Ibbotson

Kathy grew up learning about engineering from her father, a mechanical engineer himself. She narrowed her focus to chemical engineering after having a particularly engaging teacher in high school for AP chemistry. Attending the University of Dayton helped her gain practical engineering experience through internships at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company in their lawn formulations department and at the J.M. Smucker Company in their process engineering department. Those experiences helped her decide to pursue a career in manufacturing consumer products. After graduation, Kathy moved to Wilmington to take a job with a Fortune 500 company as a chemical process engineer in their leadership development program. After succeeding as a process engineer, she moved up to a management position in responsible for the day-to-day production of high-quality products in a heavy manufacturing facility.

Despite these successes and enjoying her challenging work, Kathy couldn’t help but remember some of the amazing teaching and outreach experiences she had in college. At the University of Dayton, she enjoyed being a teaching assistant for many classes and helped other college students understand difficult concepts. She also participated in a volunteer abroad engineering program through UD and went to Shanghai, China for a summer. There, she brought sustainable solutions to water purification to villages on the outskirts of Shanghai – polluted canals were their only water source. She was also highly involved in leading her female engineering sorority, Phi Sigma Rho, which provided her many opportunities to get involved in promoting STEM to youth.

Networking and meeting so many inspiring female engineers through her sorority, Kathy became passionate about closing the gender gap for females in engineering and computer programming. This passion is one of the main reasons she decided to make the transition from the private sector to public education. Since coming to UNCW, Kathy has worked to grow and improve Engineering Expectation's weekend and summer programs. She has also been instrumental in starting a new program for school classrooms, called Engineering On-the-Go, where she travels to schools to provide engineering education right in a teacher's classroom.

Visit our website for more information about our upcoming Saturday programs and summer camps! We hope you'll join us soon!