Ursula Gibson

Associate Professor, Dartmouth College
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"It's way too easy to think that you have to be best - and much more important to do the best you can."

INTERVIEW DATE November 2, 2016
HER JOB Professor of Physics, NTNU
Engineering Careers
Materials |

It took me a while to find engineering -- I studied physics in school, but discovered that the connections of materials properties to applications were what really interested me.

Ursula Gibson, Dartmouth College

ADDEDWednesday, November 2, 2016

  • Q
    Describe what you do in your current work situation?
    A
    I teach classes, guide master's students and help PhD students with their degrees. I also do some lab work involving new fibers that combine glass and silicon.
  • Q
    Why did you choose engineering?
    A
    I love the fact that what I do has connections to the real world and that there can be useful applications of what I learn.
  • Q
    Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
    A
    I did my undergraduate work at Dartmouth (AB, physics) and graduate work at Cornell (PhD, experimental physics)
  • Q
    What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
    A
    In the lab, optical analysis of materials made various ways, and of course writing up the results and presenting them at conferences.
  • Q
    What do you like best about being an engineer?
    A
    There is a lot of variety in my job and I get to solve many different kinds of problems.
  • Q
    Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
    A
    I like to think that I helped quite a few students, both engineering and non-engineering, to find an interest in materials science.
  • Q
    What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
    A
    I was quite young when I took my first job and it was challenging to gain the respect of some colleagues. I think what worked best was persevering - just doing my job as well as I could.
  • Q
    Please tell us a little about your family.
    A
    I am married to a Swede (hence the move to Scandinavia), and we have three wonderful children. The oldest is employed and the two younger ones are still in school.
  • Q
    What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
    A
    The short term goal is to work with a local person to launch a company to explore one of my research ideas for production, and the longer term goal is to make an impact in the field of photonics.
  • Q
    What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
    A
    I am sure my parents played a role, though I was pretty rebellious. Another large influence was someone who suggested I was a quitter. I fought that image.
  • Q
    What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
    A
    Persevere, and believe in yourself. It's way too easy to think that you have to be best - and much more important to do the best you can.
  • Q
    Any other stories or comments you would like to share with EngineerGirl visitors?
    A
    It's way too easy to think that you have to be best - and much more important to do the best you can.
  • Q
    Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
    A
    I'm a windsurfer, and love the complexity of the interplay of wind, waves and sail. I never worry about anything else when I am sailing - it is liberating.