Brittany Scaglione is passionate about engineering. It started when she was a toddler.
“My mom hid my pacifier in the top drawer of my dresser when I was about two years old,” she said. “Instead of sitting there and crying, I stacked my Lego boxes on my chair and climbed up to retrieve it.”
Brittany’s fascination for problem-solving was encouraged by her parents and led her to participate in several science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities growing up, including summer Lego and robotics camps. The fact that her school offered STEM courses through Project Lead the Way further accelerated both her interest in STEM, knowledge of engineering concepts and exposure to a wide array of STEM careers available.
She’s participated in STEM Forward’s Wisconsin Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contests as a student at Pius XI Catholic High School, and later served as a team captain and volunteer.
STEM Forward's Rube Goldberg Machine Contests put engineering at the forefront, while encouraging critical-thinking and problem-solving in a non-traditional learning environment.
“I loved participating in the Rube Goldberg Machine Contests because it helped me learn the design process of engineering as well as troubleshooting techniques to ensure that it properly runs and operates the way it’s supposed to,” Brittany said.
Her favorite was when her team designed a Miller Park-themed machine that hammered a nail in 20 or more steps, complete with racing sausages, a jumbotron, the national anthem, a (root) beer keg, and of course, Bernie Brewer, who went down the slide after a home run was hit. The biggest design challenge was creating it so it could be easily taken down and reassembled when moving it.
“Brittany’s passion for engineering and STEM was highly apparent through her leadership of the Rube Goldberg Machine Contests at Pius XI Catholic High School,” said Cathy Zurawski, Rube Goldberg team advisor and teacher at Pius XI Catholic High School. “She inspires and encourages all students to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields.”
Brittany’s commitment to pursuing a STEM career, strong academic performance, and participation in STEM Forward programming earned her a $2,000 scholarship from STEM Forward in 2014.
Today, Brittany is a Marquette University senior, majoring in biomedical engineering. Although she’s busy with classes and a co-op through the Medical College of Wisconsin, Brittany is committed to inspiring others pursue a STEM career, especially girls.
Every Tuesday evening, she volunteers for Marquette’s Girls Who Code Club, helping fifth grade to high school students learn how to code, build websites and troubleshoot them.
“Making a difference in students’ lives and encouraging other young women to enhance their STEM skills is something I take pride in,” she said. “The girls involved in the Girls Who Code Club gain so much knowledge before entering college, which builds their confidence and exposes them to various types of careers that they may have never considered before, or even knew that they existed.”
Most recently, she served as a special awards judge at STEM Forward’s Wisconsin Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for high school students on March 3, 2017.
For young women interested in pursuing an engineering career, Brittany advises them to get involved, follow their dreams and not to give up.
“Play with Legos and don’t follow the instructions,” she said. “Join an engineering or math club. Get your hands dirty. Make things, dismantle things and fix things.”
Know a high school senior in southeastern Wisconsin pursing a STEM career? Have him or her apply for STEM Forward's $2,000 scholarship!