FPL Engineer Shares Love of Engineering with Under-Served Youth
January 23, 2012

Florida Power & Light’s Melanie Roger has a passion for her profession.

As a young girl, she dreamed of going into medicine, like her parents. It wasn’t until she got to college, at the University of South Florida, that she decided to change course. Roger switched her major to engineering, hoping it would help her “stand out” among the other medical school candidates. During her course of study, she discovered this was her true love.

“It taught me a different way to think and how to solve a problem using numerous methods,” Roger said. “I want to share that with others.”

As a Production Assurance Engineer at Florida Power and Light’s Lauderdale combined cycle plant, Roger enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for engineering with the youth of her community. She volunteers with a group called SECME – the Southeastern Consortium of Minorities in Engineering. It’s a national organization that seeks to prepare under-served or under-represented students for careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

 “It’s important to me to be able to give back to my community by promoting science and engineering fields to children who have limited exposure to them,” said Roger. “If I can help get young children interested in the sciences and have a desire to enter into the field, than I feel as though I've been successful. We should all do our part in ensuring the success of our future leaders.”

This month, Roger got a chance to share her passion for engineering with students from 55 schools throughout Palm Beach County. She served as a judge at the annual SECME Olympiad – a competition that’s the result of a year’s worth of study, experimentation and creativity.

This year students squared off at Santaluces High School in Boynton Beach on Feb. 11.  The Olympiad theme, “Plan It, Live It, Build It” featured a wide variety of hands-on activities and competitions that included a “Brain Bowl” – a trivia-like game that pits students against the clock and one another, to answer science-related questions. The students also competed against one another to see who could design the strongest wooden bridge, the fastest “mousetrap car” (propelled by a spring through a mousetrap), and the highest-flying water bottle rocket. Other competitions included creating essays, poems, banners and posters for the event.

Roger joined several other FPL engineers as a volunteer judge. “It was so energizing to see how excited the kids were about participating in the Brain Bowl,” she said.

Roger advises students that pursuing a career in engineering can be challenging, but she says it is also very rewarding. She encourages students to feed their curiosity and never stop learning.  “Perseverance always prevails,” she says.