Her job: Student, University of Maryland- College Park
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am currently a senior at the University of Maryland- College Park. I am studying to be a Materials and Science Engineer and I also have a minor in Spanish.
Why did you choose engineering?
From my early childhood, I always had a strong interest in discovering how and why things worked the way they did. Whether it was building structures with packing boxes, or taking apart my videotapes and games, I was always on a quest to learn something new! It was when I was in middle school that I really started to notice that my science and math classes were my favorite. It was almost as if I didn't see them as work because I was so interested in learning! It was not until I started high school that I realized my strong interest in science and math could lead to a career in engineering. Growing up, I hadn't heard that much about engineering as a career and I didn't know of any female engineers until my freshman year in highschool! I can remember when I met for the first time, a female chemical engineer, who really encouraged me to pursue a career in engineering. Thanks to her, and a summer engineering program geared towards highschool females at the University of Maryland, I am now on my way to becoming a materials engineer.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I am a senior at the University of Maryland - College Park, where I will graduate in May 2008 with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering and a minor in Spanish.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
At the University of Maryland, I am a member of various student groups on campus that are related to my engineering major. I am a member of the Society of Women Engineers, of which I am an active participant in the many activities planned. I encourage any female that is about to go to college or already in college that is interested in engineering, to definitely join this society. I am also a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, where I was formerly the co-chair of the Pre-Collegiate Initiative Committee that reaches out to highschool students to help expose them to various areas of engineering. Because I am a materials engineering major, I also decided to join the Materials Engineering Student Society (MATEs), of which I was the President last year. Membership in these societies have really helped to add to my learning experience at UMD, and I would advise anyone to join any of the groups I just mentioned. Because I love what I'm studying so much, I even joined the Engineering Ambassador Program at my school, where I get to visit high schools and tell them of the many exciting opportunities involved with choosing to study engineering!
What do you like best about being an engineer?
The thing I like best about being an engineering student, is the fact that I can relate the topics I study in my engineering classes to things happening in everyday life. I can remember a time in my first Physics class where we learned the math behind how an amusement park ride was run... I was so excited! I couldn't wait to explain to everyone I came in contact with that I knew how it worked, whether or not they understood me or not! Engineering is all about recognizing problems and devising new ways to solve them, and that's exactly what I love about engineering.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
One of my dreams when I was a young girl, was to work with NASA. Exploring space fascinated me back then, and still amazes me now! This past summer, I had the privilege of working at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where I was able to use my materials engineering knowledge, and learn a great deal about the NASA space flight programs. The highlight of my experience working there was meeting astronauts who had flown on a space shuttle mission earlier on that summer, and being shown with them on the local news when they came to visit our center! It was also exciting working on space hardware that will be flown on future space shuttle missions. Its kind of cool to say that something I've touched will be going into outer space one day!
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
The challenges I have met so far as an engineering student have been some of the classes I have had to take. Through it all, I have the learned that the best solution for these challenges are to remain focused and to never be ashamed to ask for help. That will get you very far in not only succeeding in your classes, but in any problem that you face throughout your life.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I love my family very much, and I know I wouldn't be able to do many of the things I do know if it wasn't for their love and support. I have two younger sisters who bring a lot of excitement to the house. We all differ from each other when it comes to our interests but I know they are going to succeed in whatever they set their minds to. My parents are the greatest! They are extremely supportive and always have our best interests at heart. Since we live near the university, I live at home with my family, so we get to spend quality time together.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
My short term goals are to graduate from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in Materials Engineering and a minor in Spanish. This goal will actually become reality next May! After graduation, I would also like to study abroad in Argentina to help improve my spanish skills. Some of my long term goals are to obtain a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and also to become fluent in Spanish. I also hope one day to be involved in influential research dealing with polymeric materials and biomaterials.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
A lady by the name of Ms. Laughinghouse who is currently working as a Materials Engineer, had a major impact in my decision to become a Materials Engineer. When I met her, she was working as a Chemical Engineer, and she was the one who really introduced me to the world of engineering and the opportunities it offered. If it wasn't for her encouragement and advice, I can honestly say that I doubt I would be studying engineering. If you are interested in engineering, I suggest if you can, to find someone older than you who shares your interest, and develop a mentoring relationship. It really helps as you go throughout the years.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
If you really love math and science, and love solving problems, please do not hesitate in pursuing a career in engineering! Try to contact those who are studying engineering now or practicing engineers with any questions you might have to help finalize your decision.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I have many interests outside of engineering which is surprising to some people because they think that all engineering majors are supposed to like math and science related things only! Now how exciting would life be if that were the case! I love singing, and have sung with various choirs throughout the years. I also enjoy playing and watching tennis, which is a result of my dad teaching me when I was little. I also play the violin, and had a chance to play with a group at Disney Epcot in Orlando , Florida one summer which was a great experience. One of my other great interests is photography. I literally carry my camera EVERYWHERE! Recently, I started taking a Tae Kwan Do class and hopefully I'll be able to continue that throughout the years so I can become a black belt! Having these other interests really help to break up the monotony of my classes at school, and even help me make friends that aren't necessarily in my department at school.