Name: Toby Ratcliffe
Place of Employment: Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, West Bethesda, MD
Job Title: Naval Architect/Ocean Engineer
Education: Bachelor Degree, Physics, Cornell University
Masters, Ocean Engineering, The George Washington University
Mrs. Ratcliffe graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Cornell University. In the fall of that year she joined the David Taylor Naval Ship R&D Center, now the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) – Carderock Division in Bethesda, MD. She received her Masters Degree in Ocean Engineering from The George Washington University in 1987. Mrs. Ratcliffe is on the staff of the Hydromechanics Department (Code 50) at Carderock. She works with the Department head to develop and support programs aimed at recruitment and retention of the scientific and engineering workforce. Mrs. Ratcliffe is also the K-12 Outreach Coordinator for NSWC-Carderock Division. This program is partially funded by the National Defense Education Program (NDEP). The mission of NDEP is to partner Department of Defense scientists and engineers with teachers in the communities surrounding the DoD laboratories to bring an invigorated science and mathematics curriculum to the classroom. Currently Mrs. Ratcliffe oversees forty Carderock scientists and engineers as classroom mentors under the NDEP program. In her spare time, Mrs. Ratcliffe enjoys sailing and dragon boat racing. From 2005-2006 she and her husband and their 2 teenage girls sailed to the Mediterranean Sea and back to the United States, visiting the countries of Portugal, Spain and Italy as well as many of their offshore islands.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered during your career in STEM?
The greatest challenge that I have encountered during my STEM career is figuring out the balancing act of raising a family, with my career doing research on Naval hull forms.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about having a career in STEM?
For me, the most exciting part of having a career in STEM is the chance to work with dedicated scientists and engineers as part of research teams, and being involved in cutting-edge technology for the U.S. Navy.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is considering doing a Silver or Gold Award based on STEM or pursuing a career in STEM, what would that be?
The one piece of advice I would give to a girl who is doing a Silver or Gold Award based on STEM or pursuing a career in STEM is to get involved in volunteer or paid STEM internships which gives you a chance to see first-hand what science and engineering is all about.
Did you have STEM mentors?
Yes I did have STEM mentors. The first was my dad, who taught me about electronics. The second was an 8th grade physics teacher (a retired engineer) who made science come alive again.
If you were a Girl Scout, what is your favorite Girl Scout memory?
My favorite Girl Scout memory is traveling to National Center West in Tensleep, Wyoming, in the mid 1970's. We left from Massachusetts and camped along the way, and I came back a more confident young woman.
If you were a Girl Scout, did Girl Scouting have an impact on your decision to pursue a career in STEM?
When I was 14, I applied for "Wider Opportunity" and was accepted to attend a week-long marine biological study, home-based out of Norfolk, Virginia. It was an amazing experience. That, coupled with the leadership experience I gained from being a Girl Scout, gave me a firm footing for pursuing a STEM career.