Digital Shipbuilding is excited to showcase Toby Bothel during International Women’s Day, Monday, March 8, 2021. She has done many amazing things for women in STEM over the years including leading a project to bring a digital fabrication capability to the Girl Scout Council of Northeast Ohio and speaking at DoD STEM Outreach events for “Girls in STEM.”
Toby Bothel is the director of engineering, design and fabrication at TIES, which is a STEM education consultancy.
Toby graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Cornell University, and joined the staff of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, Maryland. She received her master’s degree in Ocean Engineering from the George Washington University in 1987. For 34 years, she led model-scale and full-scale experiments aimed at measuring the flow around surface ships and submarines. She also directed NSWC’s K-12 STEM Outreach program, engaging 40 lab professionals in bringing authentic engineering projects to local school districts in Maryland and Virginia.
We asked Toby why women should choose a career in shipbuilding or in STEM.
“STEM careers, including shipbuilding and repair, are very rewarding,” she said. “You can really find your niche and work in a field that you are passionate about and that makes a difference in peoples’ lives. You will also have the opportunity to develop and hone your leadership skills.”
In recent years, more women have begun pursuing STEM degrees and occupations, yet these women often face challenging circumstances such as earning less in pay than their counterparts and learning how to navigate in often male-dominated fields.
“I have been a woman in STEM for 42 years, and I wouldn’t change anything about my career. I have had opportunities to design Navy ships and submarines, to work with amazing research teams made up of brilliant scientists, engineers and technicians, and to teach young people how to build and operate model underwater sea gliders and remotely operated vehicles,” Toby said. “I have learned to work with men who didn’t think that a woman belonged in a STEM field, by being technically prepared to tackle a task and show them that I could ‘hold my own.’”
After retiring from civil service, Toby joined TIES Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM in 2014 where she leads the digital engineering and design team and supports STEM school design projects. TIES has been instrumental in bringing digital fabrication to formal and informal learning environments. They design models for creative learning spaces, curriculum integration and professional development to support all learners.
Toby currently lives in Costa Rica with her husband so they can be closer to their grandchildren.