STEM Professional of the week

Melanie Villatoro      
New York City College of Technology

Melanie Villatoro has dedicated much of her professional life to STEM outreach by developing programs that provide STEM exposure to elementary school children, engage high school students, and increase retention of undergraduate students.

Melanie’s personal journey to helping others began in Guatemala City, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala. But like many others, her parents moved to the United States in an effort to provide better opportunities for their children. They began a new life in Queens, New York where Melanie not only took note of the sacrifices her parents had made, but also developed a determination to work hard to take full advantage of what life had to offer. Her high school years were spent at The Cooper Union for Advancement of Science and Art – a school dedicated to preparing talented students to make enlightened contributions to society. Following her high school career, Melanie enrolled and eventually graduated from the Albert Nerken School of Engineering with a degree in civil engineering.

Her first job as an engineer was as a Geotechnical Engineer, a type of engineering concerned with the engineering behavior of earth materials. During this time, Melanie worked on her master’s degree in civil engineering at Columbia University – a degree she would receive in 2005 while also becoming a licensed professional engineer. After five years in the field, she decided to join the world of academia as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn, New York to make a difference in her community.

Professor Villator teaches a variety of courses in the civil engineering major, including freshman statics and strength materials to senior courses including steel, concrete design, soil mechanics and foundations. She is coordinating two initiatives within the department to improve student performance and retention and is a member of the College Association Board, College Council, New Student Orientation Committee, CUNY Service Corps Selection Committee, and Chairperson of the Academic Integrity Committee.

Professor Villatoro is committed to her students and actively engaged in increasing the number of underrepresented groups studying engineering related majors. At the college level, she developed a high school summer program to strengthen STEM skills and increase exposure to careers in transportation. Professor Villatoro’s office is always full, whether a student needs academic help, career advice or personal advice. Her students recognize and appreciate that she genuinely cares about them and their future.

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