RATON — On Thursday October 22, 2015, New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) Academy of Civil, Agricultural and Geological Engineering (CAGE) will initiate 2015’s few select members. CAGE was formed to serve as a multipurpose liaison between the University’s Department and Engineering professionals. The academy is action oriented and aids in developing support for engineering within NMSU, across the state of New Mexico, as well as the entire nation. When Karen Stearns transferred to NMSU after falling in love with the beauty of New Mexico’s landscape, little did she know that her path would be led to being initiated into the prestigious CAGE Academy. Born and raised in Chicago, she attended an all-girl Catholic High School. In her senior year, her love of math and science prompted one
of her teachers to encourage her to attend a ‘Women in Science & Engineering’ seminar. Following the three day seminar, Stearns felt compelled to embark upon her journey to become a Civil Engineer. First she had to make her way through her Bachelors in Science at NMSU learning the fundamentals of engineering and four years of work experience under a licensed Civil Engineer, which all culminated with the engineering application process and a day long examination. Throughout her career, Stearns has worked in various fields. Evaluating facilities for safety system compliance, designing residential and commercial developments, floodplain mapping, and 39 miles of widening US70 through the Hondo Valley are just some of the high points of her career. She is able to now look back at the importance of having strong mentors to guide her along her journey. Mentorship is something she feels passionately about, especially in this field which requires experience and skill. This passion has always led her towards hiring engineers who are straight out of school so they too can have the opportunity at practical experience. She recently hired a young high school graduate who is aspiring to be a construction technician. Having worked across New Mexico in places such as Albuquerque and Los Alamos, Stearns made her way one year ago to the peaceful town of Raton. Stearns and her husband purchased one of the historic buildings in Raton, making it their home as well as a haven for their other interests. This building houses Stearn’s engineering consulting firm, Engineering Analytics, and Colfax Ale Cellar, the couple’s microbrewery which consumes all and any of Stearn’s spare time. Stearns continues to be in awe of New Mexico’s natural beauty and enjoys regular walks and hikes with her husband and their dog, Pippin. Walking through Downtown Raton, a hike through Sugarite Canyon, or a scenic trip to Goat Hill are all in the top running as Stearn’s favorite experiences in Raton.