Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

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Louisville District engineer champions STEM education and diversity to inspire future generations

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District
Published Feb. 29, 2024
Louisville District engineer champions STEM education and diversity to inspire future generations

Louisville District engineer champions STEM education and diversity to inspire future generations

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District’s Army and Interagency and International Support (IIS) Section Chief, Stacey Purifoy-Jones, is passionate about inspiring future generations to pursue careers in STEM.

"As an African American female engineer who discovered engineering by accident on the internet, I want others to explore all the possibilities this field can provide without limitation,” she said.

Now, Purifoy-Jones holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Louisville J.B. Speed School of Engineering, as well as a master’s degree in construction engineering management from the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Engineering.

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), minorities have been historically underrepresented in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. “In the last five years, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts have been publicized and discussed however, it’s very important that they are applied to action,” she said. “The world needs diversity and different perspectives to generate new ideas and evolve.”

As an alumna of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter at the University of Louisville, she had the idea last year to reach out to the organization and get involved.

On Feb. 22, USACE Louisville District was a guest speaker at a University of Louisville chapter of the NSBE. Purifoy-Jones spent time telling students about her path to engineering and what she has been able to do with it since, from being deployed to the Middle East with the Army to working in the private sector and now with the Louisville District.

While many would stop there, Purifoy-Jones is just getting started, continuing to reach out to other companies in the Louisville area and bring in more guest speakers for the chapter.

“My hope is that students see all the different ways their technical background can be applied [and] promote long-term interests while emphatically bringing about change as the world faces new challenges,” she said.

Purifoy-Jones says she is a servant leader at heart. “I aspire to be a positive influence in both my personal and professional lives and in my community. I want to encourage future generations to diversify the STEM field and eliminate the gap in representation,” she said.

Nevada Lomax, president of the UofL chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, describes the opportunities Purifoy-Jones has created for chapter members as “impactful,” noting that most students wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to connect with the local companies she is helping to bring in.

“Getting to hear from different professionals who have [studied engineering] and now have successful careers, like Stacey, is truly inspiring to the students,” said Lomax. “It is reassuring that our dreams can become our reality.”

The National Society of Black Engineers was founded in 1975, with the mission to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.

Chick Lock

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