Laura McHugh


Laura McHugh is a new grandma. A registered professional mechanical engineer, she has had a successful 35-year career performing consulting projects in a wide variety of industry sectors at sites around the world.  She specializes in environmental and safety consulting and management systems.

Ms. McHugh was born in Mt. Vernon Ohio in 1959 and was entering middle school right around the start of feminist movement. She was the first woman in her family to attend college, following in her father’s footsteps by studying engineering.  Admitted during high-school to a rigorous program at UC Berkeley that sought to encourage women and minorities to enter the sciences and engineering, she completed her degree in mechanical engineering in 1981, at the age of 21.

At that time, her graduating class in engineering  was comprised of only 12 percent women. She did an internship just before graduating with a firm that consulted to the power/utility industry. About seven years into that job, she volunteered to work in the firm’s first environmental group. She went on to be Regional Manager of a smaller consulting firm at 30 and founded her own company a couple of years after that.

Engineering has always provided an interesting career. Ms. Mchugh has traveled all over the world and has worked in a lot of different business sectors. She loves seeing manufacturing plants, including how semiconductors and appliance parts are made, how chickens and tuna are processed, how bread is made on a large scale, and how pharmaceuticals are manufactured. In her late 30s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced raising four children as a single mother, all the while working diligently in her chosen field. The difficult divorce led her to discover her creativity through making art. Thus, she calls herself Grandma STEAM, putting the Art into STEM. She believes creativity is key to happiness and that we all have creativity in us, just waiting to be expressed.

Ms. McHugh speaks to groups, including STEM students, about putting more A in STEM.


Ms. McHugh’s art explores the integration of interior feminine dialogue with self and the integration of exterior relationships as a mother, grandmother, working engineer and artist within a community that is  women gaining ground in engineering, science, politics, art and public-policy making.

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