December 4, 2005Her job: Mechanical Engineer, Stanford University
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford. The focus of my teaching is on engineering design for undergraduate and graduates students. Engineering design involves creating solutions to human needs. These may be needs such as cleaner automobiles, affordable assistive devices for the disabled, or re-useable solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle.
Why did you choose engineering?
My father was my greatest influence in choosing engineering. My dad is a metallurgical engineer. Both he and my mom encouraged me to take math and physics in high school (I have always found these topics to be fun and challenging). Both of them also encouraged my pursuit of music (which I was very involved with all through high school). But when I began to doubt majoring in music in college, it was my dad who suggested that I at least start in engineering. I must admit that when I started my engineering education, I had not taken many things apart or built many things, or for that matter, thought of my self as being particularly creative!
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
B.S. in engineering mechanics from the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Univ. of Michigan-Dearborn Ph.D. in mechanical engineering
What do you like best about being an engineer?
Of all the things that I like about engineering, I like the variety in my work the most, from working with design teams, building devices, teaching classes, running experiments, and analyzing systems. I am interested both in designing things, and the PEOPLE who do design.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
I have been inspired by many women. My mother and grandmother, in particular. My mother has always worked outside of the home. Her energy and devotion to both her work and family have always inspired me. My grandmother was a medical doctor at the turn of the century. This was when very few women were doctors. But she persisted in the profession and she has always served as a model to me of not being stopped by conventional thinking.