Middlesex Community College recently announced Marie Hronik-Tupaj as the new dean of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). As a professor of engineering, Hronik-Tupaj has been at Middlesex for five years and strives to offer a student-centered, inclusive environment for all of her students.
“I like to provide a positive learning experience starting where students are at and supporting everyone in class,” Hronik-Tupaj said. “In the STEM division, our values are on teaching and working with students directly from their first class to next steps after graduation. We’re focused on helping students succeed and because of this, it’s so important to offer opportunities for them to connect with us, their classmates, and the community.”
In her new role, Hronik-Tupaj wants to build upon the educational workforce opportunities within MCC’s STEM division. This includes enhancing STEM-based Learn and Earn experiences and collaborating with industry partners on internship opportunities and curriculum development. With an interest in learning new technologies, she also hopes to create programs at MCC that support emerging trends, including robotics, artificial intelligence and environmental biology.
As the college received a grant to support women of color studying information technology, Hronik-Tupaj is looking to increase enrollment, retention and high-paying job opportunities for this population. One way Hronik-Tupaj believes students who are interested in STEM — particularly women — can succeed is by finding a topic they enjoy, sticking with the program, and building connections with classmates and someone who has followed that path before them.
“There are a lot more women in engineering and science than there were 30 to 40 years ago, which is encouraging,” she said. “The challenge still today is moving women into management and leadership roles in those fields, but we’re making progress.”
Hronik-Tupaj’s own journey into STEM was influenced by her father, who was an electrical engineer. She found a passion for the subject in high school because she liked listening to inspiring science lectures and working on challenging problems. In college, she pursued engineering because she knew there were many high-paying jobs available in the Boston area.
After graduating from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Hronik-Tupaj proceeded to work in high-tech. At the time, the biotechnology field was growing, so she returned to Tufts to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. She then decided to stay in higher education.
While in college, Hronik-Tupaj benefitted from following the degree sheet and working with career services. Participating in internships helped build her resume, which helped her receive strong job offers after graduating. Now working at MCC, she believes in providing students with as much real-life application as possible, including in labs and activities outside of the classroom.
“In the STEM division, our focus will continue to be on creating a positive learning experience supporting students to reach their goals,” Hronik-Tupaj said.