BY MELISSA DELLACATO
Before Professor Mary Anne Wassel became an engineering professor, there was a time in college when she was not sure whether this was the right direction for her because she also had a love for art.
Choosing this career path did not stop her from enjoying her passion for arts. She still continues to do her own art in her spare time. She even had a mixed media piece on display at her high school that opened for viewing on Sept. 14. Recently, she has been doing some crafts.
“I started making these stuffed penguins out of various pieces of fabric and felt. I sewed them all up by hand,” she said. “Now I’ve got these little penguins sitting around at home.”
Wassel was recently hired as a full-time instructor in the engineering science/engineering technology department at County College of Morris.
“I grew up with Legos like a lot of engineers,” she said. So, she was already heading down the engineering path at a young age.
“I felt like, with engineering, I could really be more creative,” she said.
She really caught the engineering “bug” when she worked at Camp Invention as a camp counselor.
Camp Invention is a day camp for students between first and sixth grade that focuses on doing math and science projects, according to Wassel.
One of the classes they took at this camp was called “Take Apart.” Students had to bring in old, broken appliances and take them apart to see how they worked.
“I got the biggest kick out of that,” Wassel said. “It was hard to give them back the screw drivers.”
Wassel received her master’s degree in engineering from Rutgers University in 2010. Afterwards, she worked for two years for the Rutgers material science and engineering department as a graduate research assistant.
“I researched alternative manufacturing methods for cement and concrete and I was kind of ‘the energy expert’ of the group,” she said. “We were trying to figure out how to reduce the carbon footprint and reduce the toxicity of some of the materials that go into it.”
In graduate school, Wassel was also a teaching assistant. “I had the great opportunity of being able to teach some lectures,” she said. “I found that it was really rewarding.”
During the summer, Wassel continues to use her teaching skills by tutoring at Huntington Learning Center on a variety of subjects, including SAT preparation, general science, math and even preparation for the Praxis, the test required for a teaching certificate in New Jersey.
Wassel was hired as an adjunct faculty member at CCM in spring 2013 and described the experience as “totally great.” That’s why this fall, she was “happy to be here” as a new, full time faculty member.
She is currently teaching four classes: Computer Programming for Engineers, Engineering Mechanics I, Strength of Materials for Engineering Technology, and Concepts of Physics.
Wassel tries her best to create an enthusiastic environment in her classes.
“I don’t really like just lecturing. I think it’s kind of limiting in the sense that there’s not much interaction,” she said. “I try to engage a little bit. I bring in props when I can. I’d say I’m fairly enthusiastic, trying to get people excited about this stuff.”