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Local manufacturer hosts event to encourage women to enter STEM fields

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Dirk Frese, director of sales and marketing at Julabo, will lead the nonprofit. (Contributed photo)
Dirk Frese, director of sales and marketing at Julabo, will lead the nonprofit. (Contributed photo)

A Lehigh County manufacturer that develops products for such big names as NASA, will host an event tonight to establish a presence for a nonprofit that would encourage young women to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology and math.

Julabo USA, based in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, will host the event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at its corporate headquarters at 884 Marcon Blvd.

Julabo creates products for the temperature control industry and will announce details of its nonprofit foundation, WISDOM, (Women in Science Demonstrating Outstanding Merits) at the event.

Dirk Frese, director of sales and marketing at Julabo, will lead the nonprofit, along with Ralph Juchheim, president of Julabo USA and Lauren Zarzar director of WISDOM, and assistant professor of materials science and engineering and assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State University.

Frese said the partners involved in the nonprofit began working on creating the organization in 2016 and officially launched it in 2017 but wanted to start an initiative at the local level with an event to showcase WISDOM.

He hopes WISDOM will help women gain confidence in their communications skills and self-esteem, which are essential for succeeding in the workplace.

“We as a company have a social responsibility and thought, what could we do?” Frese said. “We as an industry see that need to have diversity. We want to hear about the difficulties facing them. We want to listen to them.”

Many companies Frese has talked to say there is a strong need and a disconnect between academia and industry that this nonprofit could help alleviate.

“We are the bridge, and that’s how these companies see us,” Frese said, referring to those companies supporting the nonprofit.

Frese said the organization would collaborate with other companies in the lab equipment-manufacturing, chemical, pharmaceutical and other science-related fields to fund scholarships, internships, mentoring and other opportunities it will offer to women scientists.

Several women in the fields of STEM will share their career experiences during a panel discussion at the event tonight. They are Shelly Beitler senior project manager at Langan Engineering; Wendy Silfies, project manager at Alvin H. Butz in Allentown; Natasha Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in physical chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and Zarzar.

Frese said students from Lafayette College, Cedar Crest College, DeSales University and Muhlenberg College are signed up to attend.

His goal is that the event will inspire them to pursue STEM careers.

“We have a panel of several people, they are going to share with us how they got started, what were some obstacles they had to face and what were some ways they overcame them,” Frese said.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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