Michelle Messenger, a freshman New York Institute of Technology student from Great Neck, has won the 2012 Creative Astoria Federal Competition - an annual contest designed to recognize women studying engineering or computer science.
The annual competition, which is intended to guide more females toward careers in technology, asked contestants to write an essay on what their plans were for when they graduated NYIT and who their professional inspirations were.
Messenger’s winning essay focuses on Marissa Mayer, a computer engineer who became the CEO of Yahoo when she was 37.
Messenger, who studies electrical and computer engineering at NYIT’s Manhattan campus, said she is inspired by Mayer overcoming a male bias in the engineering world, which Messenger said she had experienced among her peers at NYIT.
She added that she shares Mayer’s interest in bionics, and wants to work on devices that would help people walk or see again.
“Plenty of engineers create impressive robots or complicated programs,” Messenger said, “but my goal is to help people who are struggling.”
Messenger graduated from Great Neck North high school in 2007 and initially studied accounting at LIU Post. She then transferred to Nassau Community College the following semester and sampled a variety of majors where she said she could channel her aptitude in math and science. She eventually re-declared accounting, but realized she wanted to study computer programming after speaking to her mother, a computer programmer.
“I took an intro class at Nassau, and loved it,” Messenger says. “Then I decided to transfer and go for the big guns and study electrical and computer engineering.”
Astoria Federal Savings’ Greenvale Branch Manager and Vice President Sharon Phillips visited NYIT and awarded Messenger a new iPad.
The competition is, according to a recent release from Astoria Federal Savings, geared towards communities in Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester. It is open to all undergraduate women in schools of engineering and computer science.
Messnger claims the competition is in keeping with the mindset that NYIT encourages among its female students.
Nana Anid, dean of the NYIT School of Engineering, said the submissions are a means of assessing the environment the engineering program creates for women. Anid detailed that based on 2012s submissions the school will put the school’s Society of Women Engineers in contact with other professional organizations to enable students to have access to “a larger network.”
“Through the Astoria grant, we felt the best way to get the girls’ attention and become recognized was to have a competition,” said Anid in a recent interview. “These kinds of competitions make a big difference.”
“This school definitely encourages women to enter the engineering field, and makes them feel like they be whomever they choose in a male-dominated world,” she added.
Messenger is a member of Engineers Without Borders USA, and is also involved with the Society of Women Engineers, a professional club at NYIT. She said she is currently looking for a summer engineering internship to learn more about the field and meet people who can help her advance within it.