In a field that traditionally has been occupied predominantly by males, Bianca Little proves that engineering knows no gender boundaries.

“I feel like I need to excel in my studies and in leadership skills in order to not be overlooked for jobs, being that this is a predominantly male field. I feel like I have and will have to always go the extra mile to prove myself capable of working in this field.”

It was in her teens that Bianca Little knew she had an interest in civil engineering; an interest she was able to nurture throughout high school while attending the Engineering program at Madison-Oneida BOCES, creating a foundation from which she would go on to build her educational and future career path.

“I learned the basics of engineering there and also had the opportunity to assist one of SUNY Poly’s civil engineering senior groups on their Capstone design project,” Bianca says. “That’s how I became familiar with and more interested in the whole field of civil engineering.”

One of her best experiences during her time at SUNY Poly was working with K-12 Outreach Director Elizabeth Rossi, introducing middle and high school students to the STEM field in a series of summer camps, including the computational boot camp of Summer 2015.

“It was a two-week intensive program to learn different computer programming languages,” she explains. “We learned some of the programming basics for languages such as Java, Matlab, Python, and Latex.”

The summer prior to that, Bianca worked on an undergraduate research project with Civil Engineering Program Coordinator Dr. Steven Wei, focusing on treatment of waste water coming out of the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany.

“It was a great opportunity to learn research procedures and that, sometimes when doing research, not everything will work out as predicted. By doing research as an undergraduate I now have experience that has prepared me for the research that I will have to complete as a graduate student.”

Those graduate studies will be in Environmental Engineering, which Bianca plans to pursue following her May 2016 graduation from SUNY Poly.

And it hasn’t been just her classes keeping her busy, as Bianca has remained actively involved in numerous organizations and groups, including serving as President of the American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter at SUNY Poly.

“Each year we design and fabricate a steel bridge that we take to competition with other colleges and universities in New York State and Canada,” she says. “I am also a Student Ambassador with the Admissions Office, providing future students and their families with tours and information about the school.”

Assistant Professor Carolyn Rodak and Bianca Little during the Civil Engineering Hydrology and Stormwater management class. Classes on campus uses the stream that runs through campus as an outdoor lab.
Assistant Professor Carolyn Rodak (r) and Bianca Little during the civil engineering hydrology and stormwater management class. The stream that runs through campus is a great outdoor lab.

She credits her ongoing success to the opportunities and foundations she received while studying at SUNY Poly, with small class sizes allowing her more real-world lab experiences, as well as the chance for the professors to get to know their students. And as she prepares to begin the next chapter on her journey, Bianca says she feels more confident as a result of her experiences at SUNY Poly, that her first-hand knowledge, along with her skill set, have prepared her for the competitive job market in the STEM field that lies ahead.

“In the end, you have a more personal relationship with the professors at SUNY Poly than you would at larger universities,” she says. “Overall, SUNY Poly has provided me with an education and experiences that will prepare me for a lifetime both in and outside of the classroom.”