Deborah Suazo-Davila

Deborah Suazo-Davila

Civil Engineer
US Army Corp of Engineers
Deborah Suazo-Davila
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My name is Deborah Suazo-Davila. Yes, I have two last names because I'm Hispanic which means I speak Spanish + English. Also, I'm a Civil Engineer working for the US Army Corp of Engineers. Part of my expertise is maintenance and repair of bridges in addition to being certified as a bridge inspector. I went to engineering school because, since I was a little girl, I had all kinds of questions, and I was fascinated with buildings and how they get built. I still love math and things that involve numbers, but most of all I LOVE BEING a GIRL!!! Being a female engineer has opened doors for me! I want to help other girls to get thru those doors too.

Answers by Deborah Suazo-Davila

No. Im not a construction worker. Normally when a civil engineer is in the construction site, we are NOT building anything. We are supervising the job. We make sure it all gets done. We try not to micro-manage because we have foreman and construction tasks leaders. On the other hand, we need to know how is constructed and that all is as the plans specify.

What do you mean not good at math? Have you tried Pre-Calculus, Geometry, Calculus, and Algebra? Do you understand them?

Engineering itself no matter which one it is, its about math in a 50% of the time. You don't have to be the best mathematician but you have to work with them and pass them at least with C.

Engineering is all about equations, math relations, calculations and numbers.

Drawing... Civil Engineering is about having the ability to visualize 3D things in a 2D plan. So by saying this IM NOT SAYING that you have to be an artist, you don't have to be the best drawing things bc computers and drafters can do that for you but yes you have to have the ability to visualize things, to create and pass it into a paper as a Sketch. 

Hello Jazmin,
This is a very interesting, deep topic that its a reality in our society and professional world. 
I will give you my perspective on the topic. Its my opinion so others may not agree with me.
The low number or percentage of Women in Engineering is the result of different things: how we are raised as women, how our society is built and what we tell ourselves. 
How are we raised?
We are raised to be princess. To be perfect, to be well behave and have good manners. To dream of a castle and a hero to save us for evil. And ultimately raised to be a good women and good wife. But the question is... where is ourselves in all of the above? We are raised to serve and please others with our graciousness. And this mindset is carried in what we choose as a career: Nurses, Teachers, Administration, etc. Why? bc all of this careers their main focus is service. 
But when we think how we raise boys... they are suppose to be strong, bold, brave, conquerors and inventors. And all this is carried into what they choose for a career: engineers, doctors, business person, bankers, etc.  

How our society is built?
We are considered the weak link, the care givers. And society respect our capacity to give life but do not respect our intelligence and our inventive. Yes, we may not have the physical strength to carry 50 lbs of sand but trust me if we need to do it... we will get a way to do it. We will either invent something to carry it or we will convince someone to do for us. And our society tells us constantly you can do it.

What we tell ourselves?
We constantly accept negative thought about what we can do or what we deserve. We prefer to let go than to fight because if we fight we are not fighters we are aggressive women. If you spoke what you think and put your foot down, you are bossy. Aren't those characteristics of a good leader?  
We need more women engineers to support other women because even between us we criticize. We say Oh my Gosh! She is insane for stopping her career to raised her kids. Or She is such a bad mother! She leaves her kids with her husband while she travels to her projects. Yes, her husband left her because she was so focus in her career that she didn't took care of her marriage. Isn't this a double standard? 

If you need more info to support your paper, here are some good links:

Sheryl Sandberg: few_women_leaders

Debbie Sterling

I knew I wanted to be a technical/design/builder person for my career when I was in Junior High

Hi Sydney! 
My name is Deborah Suazo and I'm a Civil Engineer. I so glad that you are already interested in engineering and that you want to start preparing yourself for the Future. 
To answer your questions:
How I can prepare for a career in engineering:
First, you got to do good in school. Push yourself to be good in Math and Science, be the best in your class if you can. Why I tell you this? Because Engineering revolves around math and science, engineering is bringing math and science to reality. Why be the best? Because if you are the best you will be able to get to a great school with probably a Honors Scholarship.
If you could while in High School, look for an Pre-Engineering Summer Camp. I did it while I was in High School and it really gave me a direction. engineer ing-summer-programs/1842/ 

What is a normal day in civil engineering?
Well, we do alot of field work supervision. Meaning, we probably checking that the construction its been done according to the plans, specification and laws. Also, we do inspections, maintenance and repairs. Of course we don't tend to go Home Depot and do the repairs ourselves but we do know what needs to be done, how much it cost, who to hire and where we can get the best materials for the job, this  is call Project Management. There are some that focus in designing. Designing roads, bridges, building, etc. 
I really dont know in detail what does a Architectural Engineer do, but I do know that in school you take most of your courses in Architecture with Structural Engineering classes. 
I hope this can help you! If you have any more questions feel free to contact me.

Glad to help!

Let me congratulate you for you decision!!! Excellent choice! Question: Will this be a undergrad degree or graduate degree?
If its a undergrad degree (Bachelors degree)your first 2 yrs wont be a problem to work and study but the last two are very heavy and time demanding.
If its a graduate degree (Masters Degree) its a bit more relaxing bc of the nature of the programs. Most schools know that their students are already professionals and the programs are flexible. Professors adapt more to the student than what its for the undergrad level where the student have to adapt to the professor.

Hi Ikram, 
Not you are not expected to know computer programming. Yes you are expected to know how to used a computer, browse the internet and use Microsoft Office. In school they will teach you how to program. But if you like, you can take a summer course to learn programming on your 1st yr if College.

For someone to be a successful professional (any area) needs: excellent communication and writing skills.
In engineering you do all kind of writing: memos, emails, spreadsheets, "white papers", project proposals, reports, technical reports, power point presentations, etc.

Writing is part of the job. Not as much as a office assistant but nowadays with emails, you are writing constantly.

The writing skills is that photo someone have of your professional self. Lets put this way, if your resume is poorly written, You are Not getting an interview.

Yes you get people who review your reports and documents before you send them.

If your want to be successful and grow in your career, you have to have it

Hi Vanessa:
I will suggest for you to take Advance Algebra, Pre-Calculus and Intro to Calculus. If you could, get all the advance sciences. Why do I tell you this... because in Engineering School you will need a good strong MATH and SCIENCE foundation. In my opinion, YES you need to be excellent in math and sciences. Engineering revolves around Math and Sciences but that doesn't mean that if you don't do well in Biology you are done. I will say that Good grades in Physics and Chemistry can take you right into Engineering School. Definitely Good grades in MATH because you will be dealing with numbers all your school's year and career.

TI-89 is excellent! I still have my TI-89 Titanium (graduated on 2009) and that was the latest greatest. You need to ask your professors and also, remember you need to learn how to used it. So, don't go to advanced or complicated that it will be a problems to used it

Hi Courtney!
My name is Deborah and Im a Civil Engineer. First, let me congratulate you for you excellent decision on considering engineering as your future career. Its GREAT!!
Also I want to explain certain things that often are misunderstood...
Engineers do so much more than just inventions. Actually most of us DONT invent anything in our whole career. This concept is totally misleading students. 

Engineering by definition is the mechanical art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure science as physics or chemistry in the construction of real world applications.

Now my definition as an engineer, Engineers are trained by formal education (college)into Problem Solving mindset. Problem Solving includes: there is nothing there to deal with a problem, let's invent the solution, there is something already created, lets optimized that or lets update it. There is a way of doing things, how can we do it better with the technology and capabilities that we have.

There are several engineering fields that you can take... BUT you don't have to decide right away what are you will like. 
1- Civil Engineering = you will be trained to understand how things will not move. Areas like design, understand structural design, structural capacity, mechanics of materials, construction management,ect.

2- Mechanical Engineering = you will be trained to understand how things CAN move. 

3- Electrical Engineering = you will be trained to understand how energy is created. All sources of energy: water, wind, heat, nuclear, hydraulic,etc. How to generate, transmit and distribute that energy.

4- Computer Engineering = you will be trained to understand how the computerized systems work. Which means, you will learn from the hardware to the virtual aspect of the system. Learn programming, networking, etc.

5- Industrial Engineering = you will be trained to understand process. Processes of how to do things, how to produce things, how to implement things, how to obtain optimal results with less money and simpler process. 

6- Chemical Engineering you be trained to understand chemical process that will optimized better results. How to create chemical procedures to optimized what its already there. 
So much more... I will recommend you 2 things:
a- Look for a Summer camp in Pre-Engineering (in your State College)
b- Look online for a good description of each engineering areas
c- GO FOR IT!!! 

You have what it takes to be an engineer!!! 

If you have any more questions, please dont hesitate in contacting me.

Eng. Deborah Suazo