For nearly 25 years, PLTW has offered transformative classroom and learning experiences for PreK-12 students. Now, many of those students are professionals in STEM fields. We recently reached out to several PLTW alumni to learn more about their educational and career journeys, and find out what advice they have for current PLTW students. If you are a PLTW alumni interested in sharing your story, we’d love to hear from you here.
Jenee Donley lives in Houston, Texas, and works as a data engineer for Chevron. In high school, she completed Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Civil Engineering and Architecture, and Engineering Design and Development courses in the PLTW Engineering pathway.
In what grades did you participate in PLTW? What were some of your most memorable experiences from PLTW?
I participated in PLTW in grades 9-12. One of my most memorable experiences was taking Principles of Engineering. It was one of my first classes that focused on learning through hands-on projects and working in a team setting. What I remember most was working with the Lego robots; we had so much fun. They actually ended up being the same ones I would later use in my freshman engineering class in college. That previous experience I had with them really boosted my confidence and made me a go-to person for others in my class when they needed help.
What did your journey look like to get to where you are today?
For college, I attended Texas A&M University where I earned a degree in geographic information science. My focus was on computer design and analysis, and this is really where my love for working with data began.
While in school, I was able to do some student-led research under one of my professors and was heavily involved in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Both experiences allowed me to network and make some very valuable connections that I still have today.
What is your current role within your company? What are your responsibilities in this position?
Currently, I work as a data engineer for our Data and Insights platform. From a high level, my role is to help provide solutions that transform the way we do business from an analytics perspective. The goal is to use data to help gain insight and improve decision making, workflows, and automation.
My current project is to gather, transform, and automate data coming from a variety of sources across our value chain so that we can calculate our enterprise gross margin (profit) per barrel of oil.
What did you learn in PLTW that still helps you today?
The hands-on project experience I gained through PLTW is truly invaluable. It taught me how to work in a technical group setting while also learning the importance of communication, critical thinking and reasoning, and approaching problems with an innovative mindset. These skills really aided me throughout my college journey and in my current role.
More recently, PLTW provided me with an amazing growth opportunity in my professional career – public speaking! I listed this as a skill I wanted to improve on my career development plan and, when given the amazing opportunity to emcee the 2019 PLTW Summit, I took it as a chance to conquer public speaking fears.
Do you have any advice for current PLTW students?
Explore all areas of engineering. Something you didn't expect to like might grow on you. A mistake does not equal failure. There is always something to learn from your journey and gaining knowledge is always a win. Always maintain a growth mindset!