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Teresa Berra '09 AC

Control Systems, NSWC Dahlgren Division, U.S. Navy

Teresa Berra

I returned to school in my mid-30s to explore options to broaden my career choices. It became apparent that SMET areas (science, math, engineering, technology) were the right path for me, and I learned that Smith College had a nascent, but very well regarded, engineering program. After some exploration of other opportunities available to me, I decided that the Picker Engineering Program was a unique opportunity and was the right fit for me, so I chose Smith.

Historically, I have never been one to do things the traditional way and my choice to pursue engineering was no different. I was accepted to Smith as an Ada Comstock program for nontraditional students. The Picker Engineering Program also offered me a nontraditional approach to an engineering education, in that there was a focus on providing a broader and more diverse approach to the discipline than the traditional model of an engineering program.

My courses at Smith developed my technical abilities and honed my critical thinking abilities. The faculty constantly challenged us to see the world through an engineering perspective. In almost every class I was encouraged to find things in my daily life to apply the concepts I was learning. The ways in which we explored engineering problems taught me to view the world in a new way—not just from an educated perspective, but as an engineer.

These experiences opened up the world to me in ways that are invaluable both in my career and in my life. I am currently working with the U.S. Navy at NSWC Dahlgren Division where I work on control systems in the Department of Electromagnetic & Sensors Systems. I apply engineering concepts on a daily basis not only to the work on controls systems, but also in my daily life as I do the things I love: running, cooking and working on my home.

My experiences at Smith and in the Picker Engineering Program have taken my life in directions I could never have imagined.