Careers of the Future

Meet some of the cool professionals making a difference in STEM fields around the region.



Pittsburgh’s top employers have thousands of job opportunities for students in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. The problem? Parents and their children aren’t aware of the many fascinating career paths that are possible today and, hence, aren’t preparing for them.

This special “Careers of the Future” section was designed to capture the imagination of parents and their children by introducing them to cool young people working in interesting, rewarding jobs that they may never have heard of. We thank our sponsoring organizations—Lanxess Corp., West Virginia University, United States Steel Corp., Thermo Fisher Scientific and FedEx Ground—for telling us more about Shakita, Miriam, Sarah, Lee and Amy, who are profiled in this section. These five young people are embarking on promising careers that will help fuel our community and economy for years.

National data has shown that STEM occupations have grown three times faster than non-STEM careers over the last decade. It’s estimated that one million additional STEM graduates will be needed over the next 10 to 15 years to fill economic demands. This region alone will require more than 150,000 new STEM employees.

Carnegie Science Center is a hands-on scientific hub for parents, students and teachers that uses the power of informal science education to inspire young people to pursue STEM pathways and envision themselves as future innovators.

In November, the Science Center launched the Chevron Center for STEM Education and Career Development, backed by support from Chevron and founding partners California University of Pennsylvania, Duquesne Light, Eaton Corp., Lanxess Corporation, NOVA Chemicals and PPG Industries Foundation.

While some STEM education initiatives have been in place throughout the region, the Chevron STEM Center seeks to sharpen the focus of existing programs and approach them in a more concerted way. Built on collaboration and a committed community, the STEM Center convenes various STEM stakeholders to coordinate efforts for the greatest impact.

Several Science Center programs, like the annual Engineer the Future and Chemfest weekends, bring in local corporations to offer dozens of hands-on demonstrations. Twice yearly, SciTech Days follows a similar model for four-day periods, serving 6,000 students annually. Tour Your Future takes girls inside the workplaces of female STEM professionals.
Already in its first few months of existence, the Chevron STEM Center has formed partnerships with Pine Richland and Upper St. Clair school districts and PA Cyber to help them strengthen their math and science curricula with exciting career opportunities and project-based learning that will inspire students to embrace STEM studies for the long haul.

The Science Center’s Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair (PRSEF) reinforces that mission by celebrating student’s scientific accomplishments. In May, students from around the globe competed at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, held in Pittsburgh for the first time—thanks largely to the strong reputation of PRSEF and the efforts of Carnegie Science Center.

This month, the Chevron STEM Center is partnering with Math & Science Collaborative and WTAE-TV to launch a community awareness campaign called Math + Science = Success. Targeting parents, educators and students, the campaign aims to encourage kids to enroll in math and science courses. “There is no math gene” and “All kids can learn math and science” are among the messages the campaign delivers to parents and their children. Math + Science = Success, sponsored by FedEx Ground, provides online resources at mathsciencesuccess.org for parents, teachers and kids to help keep interest in science and math percolating.

Right now, the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs require solid math and science skills. Completing advanced math in high school is proven to influence college graduation rates, and taking math beyond Algebra II doubles a student’s chances of earning a bachelor’s degree.
Our modern society is built on science and technology. In order to be educated and engaged citizens of the world in the 21st century, everyone needs to understand STEM. The Chevron STEM Center will help guarantee that our children are ready to face the challenges of the century ahead.

decor

Growing up, Shakita Trigg always knew that she would someday work in the math and science fields. Now, she has made a career out of those dreams as an Industrial Engineer at FedEx Ground.

With this position, Shakita, 33, works to support the field engineering and pickup and delivery operations in Canada and the western United States. Specifically, she develops analysis and reporting tools for field operations to help control and justify operational costs. She also works with the quality actions teams to help design, implement and evaluate new procedures and technologies.  

Prior to joining FedEx Ground, Shakita jumped into a one-year internship at another company as an Industrial Engineer Management Trainee. There she gained knowledge in safety policies and procedures, project management and more—a primer for her future success at FedEx Ground. Shakita is further advancing her knowledge as she pursues a Master of Science degree.

While the processing of packages is highly automated, it still involves people. These packages enter the system via a people-system interaction. As an engineer, Shakita focuses on how those persons can be more productive and expend less energy—with every decision meant to provide the best service possible to FedEx Ground customers.

FedEx Ground specializes in cost-effective, small-package shipping and is the leading provider of ground small-package delivery services, providing service to the U.S. and Canada. At FedEx Ground there are approximately 750 people working in Engineering, 600 employees in Information Technology and 200 employees in Accounting & Finance. In just the Engineering area, FedEx Ground hired 25 new engineer positions in the last 12 months, and 14 current employees moved into engineer positions.

decor

Miriam Petrella, 24, works as a management associate for quality assurance at United States Steel Corporation, a leading manufacturer of steel products for over a century.

Keeping in mind U. S. Steel’s mission of providing high quality materials, Miriam primarily works with operators to limit irregularities. Her daily tasks include examining coils (flat-rolled sheet products) that have irregularities and deciding on whether to release or re-treat them as required.

Miriam found her way into this field after studying chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University as well as holding various internships that prepared her for a career in chemistry. She completed internships with TIMET and Koppers prior to joining U. S. Steel.

In addition to the chemistry field, U. S. Steel offers jobs in a wide variety of other fields in STEM. Plenty of opportunities can be found in the civil, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial, manufacturing, mechanical, and metallurgical and mining engineering fields. Other opportunities exist in material science, operations management and a variety of information technology fields.  

One of the ways that U. S. Steel builds on their strength is by recruiting and developing a diverse group of talented individuals to lead U. S. Steel through another century of success. Their goal is to attract, develop and retain a workforce of talented, diverse people—all working together to create an environment where everyone can excel, reach one’s fullest potential and contribute the best work possible. U. S. Steel values the varied perspectives of their employees whose contributions support U. S. Steel’s core values, which include diversity and inclusion as well as accountability, safety, environmental stewardship, and a focus on cost, quality and customer results.

decor

Nearly 7,000 miles away, Sarah Soliman lives in Afghanistan and works at a defense technology company where she uses biometric technology applications to aid in the safety and security in Afghanistan.

On a daily basis, Sarah, 27, can be found conducting training classes with soldiers on how to use biometric equipment, troubleshooting hardware and software problems and explaining to military leadership how biometric technology can impact their work.

In order to prepare for this career, Sarah received a degree in biometric systems and computer engineering at West Virginia University. She also completed internships at the White House and the Department of Defense Biometrics Identity Management Agency. In addition, she spent a semester as a Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellow to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Biometric systems, which Sarah studied at WVU, are composed of complex hardware and software designed to measure a signature of the human body, compare the signature to a database and render a decision for a given application based on the identification achieved from this matching process. Biometric systems are increasingly used in law enforcement, access control, banking, a wide range of business and administrative systems and health care.

The FBI named West Virginia University its national leader for biometrics research, and it is identified as the academic arm of the FBI’s Biometric Center of Excellence. WVU also offers students the largest crime-scene training complex, and students benefit from real-world internships. WVU is dedicated to promoting STEM education and recently won a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Grant, which aims to increase the number of women faculty in STEM fields at WVU.

decor

At Lanxess Corporation, Lee Plummer, corporate development manager, works hard to keep Lanxess a leader in the chemistry industry. On any given day, Lee can be found analyzing a potential acquisition target, monitoring industry events and trends or participating in global team discussions about Lanxess’ sustainable development goals and growth strategies.

Lee, 25, is also eager to talk about his career and the work he is doing for Lanxess with students. At a recent STEM symposium, he had the chance to share his and Lanxess’ story with high school students interested in science and technology careers. It is through volunteerism like this, as well as classroom outreach and teacher mentoring, that Lanxess employees help to build a bridge for the scientists of the future. It is the goal of the Xplore Science with Lanxess program to demonstrate to students of all ages how science is cool, and learning is fun. Lanxess is doing its part to ensure that students are provided with the skills and resources to find meaningful employment in and around our community.

Lanxess and the entire chemical industry is truly in the eye-of-the-hurricane when it comes to workers. The industry is in the midst of losing the baby boomer generation to retirement, and the national statistics indicate that the number of future science and chemistry workers are way too low. Lanxess supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education initiatives to encourage students to study these exciting fields with the hope that some choose STEM careers in their future.

decor

Amy Laura is everywhere she wants to be—working at the office, in the lab and within the community. After completing an internship studying treatments for estrogen-dependent cell lines, she joined Cellomics, Inc. (now part of Thermo Fisher Scientific).

As a senior scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amy manages a team focused on high content analysis, which utilizes software, hardware and cell biology to help drive the drug discovery process. This group is also at the forefront of consumer safety, helping manufacturers to identify toxins before they can inflict harm.

When Amy isn’t managing her team and conducting experiments, she works to promote STEM education in and around Pittsburgh. She works closely with the Pittsburgh branch of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s network of Community Action Councils (CAC), an employee-based initiative that engages teams and communities around the world. Amy speaks with students and teachers about careers, judges science fairs and attends STEM-centered functions.

At Thermo Fisher Scientific, many of the employees come from a STEM background and work in a STEM field—from finance and chemistry to information technology and microbiology. The company is also proud to offer a dynamic sales force, comprised of subject matter experts with a scientific laboratory background. In addition, employees with STEM backgrounds are recruited for technical writing, applications specialist, legal, managerial and marketing positions.

To stimulate young STEM enthusiasts, Thermo Fisher produces a quarterly scientific magazine for K-12 teachers and offers shadow mentoring with high school students looking for a future in STEM. The company also provides undergraduate leadership development programs in operations, information technology and finance, and a graduate leadership development program for recent MBA graduates. These two-year, rotational programs are designed for graduates to accelerate their careers and become leaders at Thermo Fisher.
 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind.
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space for more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Strip District's Savoy Seeks to Refresh and Renew

Strip District's Savoy Seeks to Refresh and Renew

The restaurant debuts a new lounge and has plans for refocused menu and more.
Pittburgh’s Daya Dropping New Album, Headline Tour

Pittburgh’s Daya Dropping New Album, Headline Tour

The teen singing sensation from Mt. Lebanon’s tour concludes in Pittsburgh.
See it Now: Trailer for Filmed-in-Pittsburgh “Fences”

See it Now: Trailer for Filmed-in-Pittsburgh “Fences”

Directed and starring Denzel Washington, the first big screen treatment of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play arrives in theaters on Christmas Day.
2016 Athena Award Winners Announced

2016 Athena Award Winners Announced

Named for the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the ATHENA Awards are unique among regional honors for professional women because of the focus on developing the next generation of leaders through mentorship.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind.
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space for more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

The Strip District eatery overcomes tumult and once again is one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants.
Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

The things that are best about us? They’re not things. They’re ways.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Strip District's Savoy Seeks to Refresh and Renew

Strip District's Savoy Seeks to Refresh and Renew

The restaurant debuts a new lounge and has plans for refocused menu and more.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
e2 to Close in Highland Park

e2 to Close in Highland Park

Chef/owner Kate Romane will move on to a new project.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


Halloween Hotlist: 10 Events That Prove Scaring is Caring

Halloween Hotlist: 10 Events That Prove Scaring is Caring

Pittsburgh is a wicked destination for spooky shenanigans. Here’s a sampling of what’s to come.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates’ Ship Sunk But Salvageable

Pirates’ Ship Sunk But Salvageable

Of all that conspired to derail the Pirates after three consecutive trips to the playoffs, the unanticipated implosions of Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano proved, in retrospect, to be more of a deal-breaker than anything else.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Green Chic: The Boxcar Planter Set

Green Chic: The Boxcar Planter Set

The geometric set is available through the hip Ace Hotel shop.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Surprise: Deepwater Horizon is Quite Good

Surprise: Deepwater Horizon is Quite Good

Reviews of "Deepwater Horizon" and "Queen of Katwe," along with local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

This Pittsburgh couple wanted their guests to be just as content as they were at their wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Make Your Design Work for You: Mecox Opens In Pittsburgh

Make Your Design Work for You: Mecox Opens In Pittsburgh

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Mecox will be opening its eighth location, but its first in Pittsburgh, in Shadyside.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education

Thiel College to Break Ground on New Science Facility

The project will cost $4.5 million and will connect two previously existing structures.

Comments