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Natalie Cannon

​​SCC Student Wants to Level the Playing Field in STEM Careers

One of Natalie Cannon’s first classes at Santiago Canyon College (SCC) was Computer 120 (C++ Programming) where she was shocked to find herself as one of just two women in a class of 50 students, an imbalance that is also reflected in the job market. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project*, women hold half of all jobs in the college-educated workforce, yet just 29 percent of all science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) positions.

Image of Natalie CannonHer instructor, Professor Ron Kessler, suggested that Cannon join the Socie​ty of Women Engineers and the campus STEM Club, where she has held several leadership positions, including president. Her growing enthusiasm also led Cannon to become a student ambassador at SCC, where she assists high school students with the transition to college.

“Professor Kessler encouraged me to get involved in clubs and organizations that really got me involved at SCC and with other students who were interested in science,” said Cannon. “The Society of Women Engineers serves as an advocacy group to promote science and engineering to many groups, including minorities and high school students.”

Cannon also credits Professor Kessler for guiding her toward the Robotics Club on campus. Now 11 members strong (including five women) the SCC team won first place at the UC Irvine Rescue Robotics competition, where the autonomous robot “Sheldon” used radar and sonar to detect simulated “victims” in a field of objects. The competition goal is to develop a rover that can replace human first responders in an emergency.

Beyond that blue ribbon, Cannon is interested in a career in aerospace engineering and has accepted a 10-week internship at Princeton University to conduct plasma physics research for the Department of Energy. In doing so, she’s following her own interests and instincts, while also leveling the playing field for women in STEM careers.

* - National Girls Collaborative Project statistics