CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham resident Mariel Kolker received a "shout out" at the recent Chatham Board of Education meeting from board member Ann Ciccarelli for being the recipient of the Northrop Grumman Foundation Excellence in Engineering Education Award.
Kolker, a teacher at Morristown High, was informed that the National Science Teachers Association had chosen her for her "exemplary science teaching skills."
Kolker recently received her award at the NSTA Conference held in Los Angeles. The award included a $5,000 check for materials and a $3,000 prize.
A physics teacher and mechanical engineer with 13 years of experience in the power generation and distribution industry, Kolker has taught engineering to high school students in both pre-engineering electives and in physics. She also provides professional development for K12 educators for both nano-science and engineering.
While teaching Principles of Engineering at Morristown High School, Kolker noticed a disparity in the number of females enrolling. She received approval to teach the first all-girls engineering class.
Kolker conducted her own research on why there weren't more girls participating in engineering studies and presented her findings to K-12 teachers at NSTA and ITEAA conferences held at Rutgers University.
At Morristown High, Kolker started both a Girls in STEM club and a Girls Who Code club, where she introduced girls to professional women in the fields of engineering or computer science.
Over the last three years, Kolker enrolled in the Educational Leadership EdD program at University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where her dissertation will be in educating K-12 teachers to help understand and combat the gender gap in engineering and coding professions.
Kolker also teaches a Nanoscale Science & Engineering course that she wrote during a four-year collaboration with Stevens Institute of Technology.