In a sad turn of events, Kate Slattery suddenly passed away in a bicycle accident on June 22, 2016. To memorialize their daughter while recognizing her commitment to engineering, the family asked friends and family to donate to the Society of Women Engineers. The family also started a publishing company to fulfill one of Kate’s dreams of writing a book series to engage young people in engineering. “The book has been a comforting and rewarding project, says Kate’s mom, Margy Slattery. “We have felt Kate with us, especially through the character of Maya who is so much like Kate herself.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Kate,” says Karen Horting, SWE’s Executive Director & CEO. “We hope that by sharing her story and Fly with Maya, we can help fulfill Kate’s dream while also encouraging young girls to engage in engineering.”
“Kate loved her career as a mechanical engineer and wanted to encourage others to pursue engineering careers,” adds Margy. “She knew that for many people the field of engineering has a stigma attached to it. Engineering is seen as a difficult major in college and the jobs are mostly filled by men. Kate wanted to change that image by communicating the excitement she felt about being an engineer.”
Kate was inspired to write Fly with Maya in 2014 after returning from an internship in Belgium. The story captures a global engagement perspective of engineering and is appropriate for grade school age children.
As Kate wrote in her journal: “The mission of Fly with Maya is to let all children know that they have the ability to become engineers. Engineers should not be seen as the kids in the class who excel in math and physics, but as the artists, writers, builders, and thinkers. Kids love to imagine and build new worlds to play in, and studying engineering gives them the tools to continue to build upon these worlds as they grow older. This book’s insight into the many roles an engineer can take on will show children the career paths and positions available to them if they choose to study engineering.”
More about Fly with Maya
Kate loved reading and make-believe as a child. When she grew up, she put her imagination to work as a mechanical engineer. Kate traveled to cities all over the world—Paris, Leuven, London, and Hong Kong, to name just a few—and settled in San Francisco where she had many adventures. The friendships she gained through her travels and career influenced her writing. In Fly with Maya, the characters Maya meets are based on Kate’s engineer friends. Kate hoped that Maya’s journey would inspire children to explore the world and the way things work.
More about Kate Slattery
Kate graduated in December 2013 with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Engineering. She studied abroad at the Universite de Technologie de Troyes in France for the spring semester of 2011, where her classes were taught in French. She was the only student from the United States, enabling her to develop friendships with students from around the world.
As a student and young graduate, Kate experienced varied roles in engineering, including production management intern, product designer, data scientist, and software project manager. She worked for Cargill, Flanders' Mechatronics Technology Centre, Peak Design, and SolarCity.