CCM Engineering Alumna Creates Blueprint for Success
When Kristine Westenberger, of Boonton Township, was growing up, she was fascinated by the blueprints that covered her fatherâ€™s desk.
â€śHe was an HVAC plumber and general contractor who sometimes worked at night,â€ť she recalls. The blueprints intrigued her and were her earliest introduction to the world of mechanical engineering. She took a drafting course in high school as an elective and from there decided to earn an Associate in Applied Science, Mechanical Engineering Technology at County College of Morris (CCM).
When she attended engineering classes at CCM in the late 1980s, she was the only woman in her classes, but that didnâ€™t bother her. â€śI had four brothers and I grew up a tom boy and an athlete, so I was very comfortable being around the guys.â€ť After graduating from CCM, she attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) where she earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology.
Women in STEM
Today, she works as a supervising principal engineer at Stryker Orthopaedics in Mahwah, a global leader in reconstructive orthopedics. She began there as a development engineer in 1990 and rose to a management position. A typical work day might include remotely co-leading a team of engineers in India, troubleshooting the drawing change control process she oversees and coaching less experienced engineers.
â€śWhen I started at Stryker, there were very few women engineers; now 50 percent of engineers there are women,â€ť she says. A pioneer in the traditionally maledominated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) area, Westenberger enjoys mentoring younger women who have followed her into the field.
â€śI often share my experience with young people, hoping to inspire them to enter engineering,â€ť she says. Toward that end, she has sat on the CCM Engineering Technology Advisory Committee since 2008, helping to ensure that the STEM curriculum remains competitive and relevant.
â€śI have told students and parents alike, look at CCM because itâ€™s an exceptional school. It was a great experience for me. I definitely feel like I was well equipped when I went down to UNC.â€ť