At only 27 years old, Ciara Sivels is the First Black woman to earn a doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan.
The Chesapeake, Virginia, native has accomplished a major win at the top nuclear engineering program in the country. In October, Sivels successfully presented her thesis on “Development of an Advanced Radioxenon Detector for Nuclear Explosion Monitoring,” but she didn’t always have a passion for science.
When she graduated from high school, the scholar wanted to study culinary arts. It wasn’t until her teacher encouraged her to try her hand at STEM that she developed interests in nuclear science and engineering.
“I remember the teacher from that class saying, ‘Oh, you’re really smart, you should think about doing something other than culinary,’” she shared in an interview with Huffington Post. “So that’s kinda how I switched over into engineering and eventually ended up at MIT and ended up in the nuclear program.”
The road to earning her Ph.D. was not easy, but Sivel received support from mentors like Dr. Sara Pozzi, the academic advisor for her thesis.
“This project was initiated by Ciara and represents a significant advance in nuclear explosion monitoring,” she told Huffington Post. Pozzi explained that representation matters, especially with the lack of diversity in science.
As the founder of Women in Nuclear Engineering in Radiological Science on her campus, Sivel feels its important to expose more Black women to the world of STEM.
Tiera Guinn Fletcher is an African American engineer who graduated from MIT in 2017 and works for Boeing. She is one of the designers and structural analysts building the Space Launch System for NASA which is set to send people to Mars.
Fletcher was born in the greater Atlanta area in Georgia. Her interest and attraction to math and science began at the age of six and was cultivated by her parents. Her mother Sheila, was an accountant and her father was a construction worker. Her parents encouraged her to calculate things and measure things in her daily life. These exercises – including coupon clipping, totaling up grocery receipts, and learning about the applications of architecture – challenged Fletcher and set her apart from other kids her age. At eleven years old, Fletcher zeroed in on her interest in Aerospace engineering while participating in an aerospace program put on by Lockheed Martin. Fletcher went on to study aerospace in college at MIT.
Fletcher lives in New Orleans, Louisiana where she works on the assembly of the Space Launch System. She was married in July 2018 to Myron Fletcher, another aerospace engineer who also works at Boeing. Both she and her husband share an interest in influencing young people to join the world of STEM along with increasing the diversity of STEM fields.
Fletcher attended Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia. During her senior year of high school, Fletcher received an internship at NASA in Langley, Virginia. She also landed a research internship at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014. The internship involved assisting in the research of landing performance in aircraft. Through these internships her interest in the field grew and she solidified her choice in pursuing aerospace engineering as a major in college and an eventual career.
Fletcher attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated with a 5.0 GPA and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering in June 2017. She participated in a mentorship program to help other students at MIT, this helped instil confidence in herself and her capabilities.
After her first year, Fletcher participated in undergraduate research studying design optimization of aircraft at MIT. Her second year, she again participated in undergraduate research, this time studying Network Analysis. During her junior and senior years of college, Fletcher participated in two different internships at Boeing. From June 2015 to June 2016 Fletcher was a Systems Engineering Intern at Boeing where she helped design, test, and collaborate with other professionals on Boeing products. The following year from June 2016 to June 2017 Fletcher was a Design engineer and Stress Analyst Intern at Boeing where she helped with the design process and analysis of the Space Launch System for NASA.
Fletcher was offered a job at Boeing as a Structural analysisEngineer. At Boeing, she is one of the lead engineers and designers working on the Space Launch System for NASA which aims to put humans on Mars. The Space Launch System is the fastest rocket ever created and the largest. The area that Fletcher works on is the exploratory upper stage of the spacecraft which helps the craft complete its ascent phase. She is part of the Engine Section Task Leading team responsible for this, of which she is the youngest member.
Fletcher received the 2017 Good Housekeeping‘s Awesome Woman Award which recognizes women who are impacting the world for the better by overcoming social constraints and influencing the world around them.
Also in 2017, Fletcher received the Albert G. Hill Prize at MIT which recognizes students in their junior or senior year who have excelled academically and impacted the environment at MIT in a way that improves campus climate for other minorities.
Two Nigerians have made the L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth (Canadian Edition) final list, released this month.
Toyo Ajibolade of Lady Ballers Camp, and Adeola Olubamiji of STEMHub Foundation are the women on the list which “honours extraordinary women making a beautiful difference in their communities.”
Each of the 10 women will receive a $10,000 grant for her non-profit organization. Voting has commenced (till March 4th) for one of the women to be selected as the National Honouree and receive an additional $10,000 grant to further support her charitable work. See how to vote HERE.
About Toyo’s Lady Ballers Camp:
Lady Ballers Camp is a non-profit organization that develops girl-centered programs which encourage non-competitive physical, emotional, and educational development. Lady Ballers Camp operates within an anti-oppressive framework and is committed to social change. Through the organization, young women are encouraged to advocate for themselves and their communities. Since its inception, over 600 girls have participated in the camp and last year 90% of the campers attended free of charge. Lady Ballers Camp champions an unyielding belief that through teamwork, resilience, and opportunity, young women will have the courage to reach for and achieve their goals.
About Adeola’s STEMHub Foundation:
STEMHub’s innovative educational programs are creative, interactive, and provided at no financial cost to participants. The Foundation focuses on providing skill development services to females, visible minorities and underserved youth in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). It also facilitates mentorship opportunities for university students and early career professionals to fuel ambitions and inspire excellence through career guidance and further development of a specialized skillset. In the past year, STEMhub has aided 1,000 youths in Canada and over 2,000 youth living in Africa, to secure admission and scholarship opportunities for graduate and undergraduate degrees. In partnership with the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment, Frontlines Toronto, Restoration House Hamilton and many other organizations, STEMHub Foundation is providing girls and minority youths with STEM role models who offer STEM workshops as volunteers. One of the strategic partnerships with the Toronto Police Service enables StemHub Foundation to help with bridging the gap between the police and young minorities (especially black youths). Through Adeola’s leadership, the composition for STEMHub’s board of directors amplifies the foundations vision that all people should have the opportunity to pursue STEM careers and leadership roles, no matter where they get their start in life.