Hi! I'm Marsha!
I created Putney Designs with the mission to “empower the engineer in everyone.”
I develop STEM experiments (STEM=science, technology, engineering, math) and design projects, because there’s nothing like learning by doing. I write children’s middle grade STEM adventure books because stories change attitudes… if we can create positive attitudes about math, science, and problem-solving skills, we can greatly increase our children’s motivation and set them up for success!
I grew up secretly wanting to become an artist/inventor like Leonardo da Vinci, but I didn’t know how.
I love science, art, and math,… as well as family, dogs, butterflies, swimming underwater, the ocean, teaching my dogs cool tricks, sewing, quilting, and solving problems by coming up with my own designs. I had a wonderful childhood, with lots of creative play and hobbies. My second childhood (post-retirement) is also filled with designing and creating, yoga, and occasionally rearing butterflies.
In fact, all those projects I created on my own as a kid are what got me through my bachelor of science in mechanical engineering at Purdue University in 1981. Not the high school physics project that won awards at the University of Cincinnati science fair, or the award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Engineering is hard. You will be out of your comfort zone at times. But it can also be a lot of fun, and extremely rewarding. I am grateful every day for the 30+ years that I worked as an engineer professionally. I went on to get my master of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati, and Ph.D. in materials engineering from the University of Dayton, all while working at GE Aviation.
Now I volunteer time to inspire and encourage others to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM fields). My STEM experiment work with Girl Scouts of Western Ohio and GE Volunteers has been recognized with the Girl Scouts Appreciation Pin, the 2018 GE Volunteers Award, and the 2021 GE Aviation Outstanding Retiree Award.
The first four books in my award-winning Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures series are available in ebook and paperback! You can view details about my published fiction work under “Books,” along with links on where to buy them. Inventors Club Project Workbooks coming later this year, with 5-8 projects from each book you can do at home!
Meanwhile, check out my “STEM” page for some experiments you can do at home–most with supplies you already have on hand!
Looking for things you can make? Check out “Putney’s Projects” for instructions to build a cardboard catapult, or Putney’s simple sit-upon!
Keep checking back for updates, or sign up to be notified of my next book, experiment, or project!
Learning from STEM to Stern
Check out this article from the Wilmington News Journal about my visit to Blanchester Intermediate School on 3/4/2021, where we did the Buoyancy experiment from my second book, The Cardboard Boat Race.
If you’d like to book me for a visit to your school, either in-person for schools in the Greater Cincinnati-area, or virtual school visits, please contact me! (Just scroll down to the bottom of any of my webpages to reach out!)
Book me for your podcast, radio or TV feature, Library or school visits!
Times are challenging for students and teachers dealing with the current covid-19 pandemic.
There’s never been a better time to learn creative problem-solving and design skills. I can help!
My background includes a BSME from Purdue Univeristy, an MSAsE from the University of Cincinnati, and a PhD in materials engineering from the University of Dayton, plus 35 years work experience at GE Aviation. During a three year assignment as Manager–Technical Education Programs for GE, I also learned a lot about technical education by working with Ted Fowler and Glenn Markle from UC’s Teachers College. I am active in the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (GCSC).
In fact, my work with GCSC, GE Volunteers, and Girl Scouts of Western Ohio are what led me to write my own series of middle grade fiction books, because stories change attitudes.
- Did you know that fewer than 25% of engineering students are women, yet they make up over half of college students?
- Or that many students don’t even consider STEM fields because they lack confidence in their own math skills?
- Or that women are more likely to change majors if their grades are less than perfect?
I can speak from experience. I got my first D ever in physics–electricity and magnetism–sophomore year, and later went on to complete a Ph.D. in engineering. But that D rocked my world. I’d never gotten a D before in my life. C’s were rare. I didn’t know if I had what it took to continue in engineering.
When the rubber hit the road, it wasn’t the awards that I won for my high school physics project that helped me stay the course. It was all of the hobbies and creative design projects… things that I dreamed up, problem-solved, and figured out on my own as an elementary school kid, creating stuff in my spare time in the summers, and later in junior high and high school that helped me stay the course.
I knew that I was creative. I figured that I just had to learn a new medium.
I hope by sharing my stories I can inspire students to be successful, build the resilience that comes from learning from failure, and empower them to follow their dreams, even when it gets tough. I especially love to show the FUN side of math!
To learn more about me, signature talks and experiments that I offer, contact me to request a current media kit.
To book me for a podcast, guest appearance, school or library visit, reach out to me via the “Get In Touch” form below.
I look forward to working with you!
Dr. Marsha Tufft, engineer, author, speaker