Beth Manners is an electrical engineer with a BSE from Tufts University. She has worked as an engineer and project manager for a French hydroelectric equipment supplier. She is currently an independent consultant. I interviewed her in January of 2015 in Westport Connecticut because I am interested in learning more about the struggles and triumphs of female engineers.
Why did you decide to study engineering?
When I took physics and learned about electricity for the first time, I found it fascinating. I always excelled in math and science, so I wanted to choose a career where I could utilize my strengths.
What type of engineering did you study and where?
My undergraduate degree is in engineering is from Tufts University, and I have a Masters in Business Administration from AdeIphi University.
What did you do for work?
I worked in project management for a company that makes hydroelectric turbines.
What exactly is a hydro turbine?
In order to make electricity, you need to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. A hydroturbine takes the energy from a river, and uses it to turn an electrical generator.
What did you like best about your job?
I worked for a French company and I liked that my work was international. The company I worked for sourced the hydroturbines in France, Spain, and Brazil. The generators th at we bought were also sourced internationally. I enjoyed working with engineers from around the world.
Did you face any challenges as a woman in engineering, if so what were they?
Back when I went to engineering school only 2-3% of my classmates were women. Most of the boys had grown up building projects and playing with blocks, legos, cars. While the girls didn’t really have that experience. A lot of the mechanics that were intuitive to the boys, were not obvious to the girls. So I had to spend extra time learning what should’ve been simple mechanics.
What advice would you give to a young woman pursuing a career in engineering?
I would say that not only should young women study science and math, but they should also try and be practical by getting out there and building things.