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Coast Guard Academy cadet recognized as young leader in engineering

Kat Stroh, a second-class cadet at the Coast Guard Academy, is being recognized as a rising star in the engineering field.

Stroh, a civil engineering major, was recognized as a Modern-Day Technology Leader at the annual Black Engineering of the Year Award's conference, held virtually Thursday.

The national award is given to "bright women and men who are shaping the future of engineering, science, and technology."

Stroh, who is from Lake Jackson, Texas, comes from a family of engineers. Her mother and sister are chemical engineers, while her father works in mechanical engineering.

"My mom always said, 'You'll find your way to it,'" Stroh said.

Stroh said she was exposed to engineering at a young age, both in school, where curriculum included vocational training, and at home.

That early exposure is vital to getting more minorities and women interested in careers in engineering, she said. Equally important, she said, is encouraging them to pursue careers in STEM.

"It's important to touch on how there are many different types of engineers. Just because they don't want to be designing circuit boards, doesn't mean that engineering isn't for them," Stroh said.

Representation also is key.

"It is so hard to believe that you can do something if the only representation that you see of that subject is white and male," she said. "Having someone who is part of your culture, who speaks like you, has shared experiences with you, who you can relate to, who is real with you, who is succeeding in something STEM, really shifts your mindset into 'Yeah, if they are doing it, I can do it, too,'" Stroh said.

Stroh's advisor, Cmdr. Corinna Fleischmann, who nominated her for the award, said the courses she took in high school enabled her to place out of physics and calculus classes at the academy. In her second year at the academy, Stroh was taking classes normally taught to cadets in their third year, Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann said the academy has seen an increase in female cadets in its civil engineering program in recent years.

"It's people like Kat who are involved in different activities and the underclassmen see that engineers aren't one-sided," she said. "They're very diverse. They are interested in a lot of different things and successful in a lot of different things."

Stroh is involved with many groups on campus, including the Genesis Council, Women's Accountability group, Cadets Against Sexual Assault, Cadet Peer Support, Society of Women Engineers, Spectrum Council, Tribal Council, Asian Pacific American Council, Companeros Club, Sustainability Club and Women's Leadership Council.

j.bergman@theday.com

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