UTC student Dacey Winkleman may be the reigning Miss Chattanooga, but when she went to her summer internship, she traded the glitzy dresses, shoes, and crown in for jeans, steel toed boots, and a hard hat.
Recently the Miss America Organization adopted a national platform of encouraging young women to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers. Winkleman, however, was already on the STEM career path. She is a senior year Brock Scholar majoring in Molecular Biology. Her professional goal is to obtain a doctorate and establish a career in medical technologies research. To those who know her well, it’s no surprise that Winkleman was honored for academic excellence in June at the Miss Tennessee Pageant where she received the Miss America State Academic Award.
Each summer Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA) at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) welcomes interns in a variety of science, technology, engineering and math fields. Only one of those, Dacey Winkleman, was both a winner of the prestigious Dr. Joseph J. Jacobs Global Scholarship and a member of the Miss America Organization. This year, Winkleman returned for her final summer as an intern with the ATA Industrial Hygiene Division as the reigning Miss Chattanooga.
Winkleman’s typical AEDC workday started with a variety of field work including meeting with workers for a review of confined space entry procedures, required ventilation methods, and other control measures. Her next assignment may have involved a trip to the Dispensary where she assisted with inventory and administrative support. Back in the office, she conducted scheduled respirator fit testing and training.
Much of her time was devoted to the AEDC Mosquito Surveillance Program. This effort involved hours of sitting in the lab studying mosquitoes through a microscope.
“Mosquito surveillance has been going on at AEDC for several years. This year it began in early June with traps being placed at various sites. These are checked weekly. Next, we determine the sex of the mosquitoes and separate the males from the females. Females are the biters – the ones that spread disease. They’re shipped to Wright Patterson where an Air Force entomologist identifies the genus species to determine if they are significant in the spread of disease,” Winkleman explained.
Mark Jenkins, ATA Risk Manager and Industrial Hygiene Group Lead, said, “Dacey is a pleasure to work with. We have enjoyed watching her grow professionally summer by summer. She started her internship supporting field work and getting acclimated with the operations at the Chemical Lab and Dispensary and she was typically accompanied by a coworker, an extra set of eyes. As she has grown in experience and comfort level, she has developed the field safety and hygiene smarts needed to look out for herself and others.”
Jenkins added, “She provides value to our organization by performing confined space entry and facility assessments, analyzing data and writing technical reports, and fit-testing workers for respirator use. She also plans ways to ‘work safe’ through discussions with her peers and the workers she supports. I don’t know what the future holds for her; the sky is probably the limit, but I know we miss her at the end of each summer.”
As Miss Chattanooga, Winkleman is an official representative of the Miss America Organization for various activities across southern middle Tennessee. In addition to various local sporting events and parades, Winkleman represented the organization as guest speaker at the 2013 Chattanooga Science and Engineering Regional Fair in support of the STEM platform.