Class of 2021: Anna Card, born leader, passionate Hokie
Anna Card is so passionate about Virginia Tech that she spent her college years finding different avenues to share her passion and excitement with countless high school and college students.
A 2021 materials science and engineering graduate from upstate New York, Anna was not familiar with Virginia Tech until she attended an information session offered by her high school. The enthusiasm and energy of the admissions representative convinced Anna to explore both the university and engineering.
After spending two weeks with other young women at a C-Tech2 camp working on a GE-sponsored design project, she decided that Virginia Tech was the school for her. C-Tech2 is a summer camp offered by the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity to give high school girls an opportunity to learn about college life and to introduce them to engineering through hands-on activities, seminars, and design projects.
With that first important decision made, it was time to choose a major. During her freshman year, Anna attended an Engineering Expo, where she was put in touch with MSE alumna and GE engineer Karen Maud (2011), who discussed how she applies materials science to her job with GE. This sparked Anna’s interest and contributed to her decision to major in materials science and engineering.
“I saw the opportunity to be creative and apply different problem-solving sets to a broad spectrum of industries,” Anna said.
Building on innate leadership skills
After joining the department, Anna quickly got involved with the Materials Engineering Professional Society (MEPS), which is MSE’s student organization. She rose through the ranks of MEPS, serving as the MSE liaison to the Virginia Tech Student Engineers’ Council, then as the MEPS social chair, and finally as the vice-president. Through MEPS, she joined the Ceramic Disk competition team, which won aesthetic and disk throwing competitions at the MS&T conference in Portland, Oregon, in 2019.
Following her freshman year, Anna was invited to join the College of Engineering Dean’s Team. Comprised of 30-35 students, this team assists the college with recruiting efforts by conducting daily information sessions, serving on student panels, and helping with open house events. Interacting with prospective students has been one of Anna’s favorite things to do because she loves talking about engineering and the community atmosphere at Virginia Tech. She served as the coordinator for two recent engineering open houses, which involved organizing lab tours and faculty presentations to introduce high school students to the different engineering majors.
Besides the Dean’s Team, Anna found other opportunities to strengthen her leadership skills starting with the Cassell Guard. This organization includes all student fans of Virginia Tech basketball. Executive Board members, selected through an application process, work to unite the student fan section during games by distributing fan paraphernalia and coordinating t-shirt and ticket giveaways. As vice-president, Anna handled the social media accounts to keep the fans informed and excited about the men’s and women’s teams. She especially focused on the women’s basketball team to garner fan support and work to keep the energy high.
Finding a way to give back
In addition to serving the university community, Anna reached out locally through Teach 4 Jamie, a student group organized in honor of Jamie Bishop, a Virginia Tech German language instructor who died on April 16, 2007. The students volunteer in local elementary schools tutoring students in German after school.
“We’re carrying on Jamie’s legacy and it’s a great way to get involved with the Blacksburg community,” Anna said. She credits her father with igniting a desire to learn German. When she was a child, he would say random words in German, prompting her to study the language in school starting in the seventh grade.
Looking toward the future
Another outcome of her early meeting with Karen Maud was Anna’s decision to apply for an internship with GE. This led to three summer internships with GE Aviation, where she gained a wealth of experience working on projects on both sides of the process of creating ceramic composites. In Newark, Delaware, she worked on the raw materials, and in Asheville, North Carolina, she worked on manufacturing.
“Getting to feel like I was making a difference and getting to work on projects that were actually impacting the business was a unique opportunity,” Anna said.
She has accepted a full-time position with GE Power and she will be one of a handful of new employees entering the Operations Management Leadership Program. Over a two-year period, participants in the program receive leadership training and cycle through four different roles in the company: quality engineer, manufacturing, materials sourcing, and a leadership role.
“I’m really excited to get exposed to the different types of jobs and responsibilities I could have,” Anna said. She recently learned that her first rotation will be in Greenville, South Carolina, close enough to make good use of her season Virginia Tech football tickets.
Anna hopes to build a solid career with GE over the coming years. While at Virginia Tech, she came to appreciate the supportive environment of the college community, and she believes she has found the same environment at GE. During her internships, she was surrounded by supportive co-workers who were passionate about their work.
“It’s going to ease the transition of going from Virginia Tech to a company whose culture I know is similar.”