One of the biggest challenges for New Jersey engineering communities, Christine Ballard said, is the shortage of qualified staff.
“If you were to talk to any engineering firm, they’d say that, in order to achieve the growth they need, there are not enough engineers coming out of school,” she said.
After polling her friends and colleagues, Ballard discovered that across the board there was someone in engineering in their lives that explained to them or was able to physically show them just what engineers do.
“You can make a difference in the quality of life in your community,” Ballard said.
“At the most simple level, we can provide clean and safe drinking water. But we can also provide beautiful parks and greenways, and that’s a great feeling to be able to do that and be proud of what we’ve done.”
Because of this revelation, Ballard is committed to fostering growth in the industry by reaching out to younger students. She routinely participates in T&M Associates’ “Lead the Way” program, which allows high school students to attend site visits. She also works with external programs, such as the Girl Scouts “Inspiring Girls in Engineering,” which is designed to encourage middle school girls to study STEM courses such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Just as important, Ballard said, is that T&M Associates retain its own talent.
So in January, Ballard founded the T&M Associates Young Professionals Group to take part in the personal and professional development of its younger staff members by booking educational speakers, pairing mentees with senior-level management mentors and engaging the group in community service, such as rebuilding homes after Sandy.
“I wanted to bridge the gap between upper management and younger staff, as well as give younger professionals a way to meet their peers and talk through problems,” Ballard said.
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