Elisabeth Drake

Current Position: Emeritus Staff at MIT
Elisabeth Drake
Highlight Talk to engineers about their jobs -- and see if the types of things they do seem exciting. Hard work, lots of travel, teamwork, and a lot of opportunities are often part of it. If you love science and math, this is a good way to have a rewarding career.
Her job: Emeritus Staff, MIT
Describe what you do in your current work situation? Though I am officially retired, I still team teach a graduate course at MIT on Sustainable Energy and participate in a variety of professional activities relating to engineering and environmental issues.
Why did you choose engineering? I wanted a profession that would allow lots of variety and real-world problem solving.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? Got a SB in Chemical Engineering at MIT. After working for 6 years after graduation, I returned to MIT for a doctorate degree - so I would be able to teach as well as practice engineering.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? Worked for a consulting company on many projects around the world related to energy production and transportation. Became interested in ways to manage safety and environmental performance using risk evaluation techniques.
What do you like best about being an engineer? Got a real sense of accomplishment in meeting a variety of challenges and seeing projects developed and built. Enjoyed working as part of a team where I could learn a lot from colleagues with different backgrounds.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? Collaborating with some other MIT experts to develop a comprehensive course on energy options for the future and tools that can be used to find better pathways to a future energy system that is socially and environmentally sound
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career? Started as an engineer when girls in the profession were unusual -- have enjoyed seeing more women enter the field and succeed professionally. Had some problems along the way, but learned that life sometimes brings new opportunities when I am open to changes
Please tell us a little about your family. Only child of two professional parents who always worked hard. Married an electrical engineer - marriage eventually failed because of my work addiction and misuse of alcohol. Now am happy with a life full of friends and adventures.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals? Learning new things in the short term -- the long term will evolve!
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? Had some great teachers when I was in high school who challenged me to try things that seemed  difficult.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering? Talk to engineers about their jobs -- and see if the types of things they do seem exciting. Hard work, lots of travel, teamwork, and a lot of opportunities are often part of it. If you love science and math, this is a good way to have a rewarding career.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book. Like music, gardening, animals... and doing volunteer work in prisons.