Goldwater student engineers her own career path

Anna Smith

By Jashonda Williams

Anna Smith never thought she’d be trying to figure out what kind of an engineer she wanted to be, let alone tasking an entire class of 5th graders with the same decision.

Smith’s own transition into engineering was anything but traditional. She was working in the beauty industry in Paris, when she met an engineer who created a self-buffering skin peel that was easy on the skin—she’s been hooked ever since.

Now an undergraduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Smith's newly found passion is allowing her to make a big impact in the Buffalo community and inspire others to take an interest in STEM careers.

Through UB’s National Science Foundation-funded Interdisciplinary Science and Education Partnership (ISEP), she has shared her enthusiasm for science and engineering by serving as a mentor to a classroom in Buffalo Public School #59. The experience motivated her to take things a step further in her efforts to get young children interested in engineering, and she organized a field trip to UB to allow the students to participate in interactive engineering projects.

Students took part in activities such as water filtration design, building computer games, and devices that aim to cure cancer.

“It was really exciting to see a sparkle in their eyes after they had such a great experience,” said Smith, who asked the students to write down what type of engineer they wanted to be when they grew up at the conclusion of the field trip.

Smith’s hard work and determination to be a successful engineer is starting to pay off. She was recently awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, and will receive up to $7,500 per year to help pay for the cost of her education to pursue a STEM career.

“I plan to launch my own company based on products developed from novel research ideas that I will work on during my PhD and beyond. In addition to my aspirations to make advancements in research and bring these ideas to fruition in industry, I am committed to serving the community by promoting the STEM fields through outreach and mentorship programs.”

Smith is doing just that. Not only did she give the students a day filled with experiential learning, but a chance to decide what kind of engineer they would grow up to be.