November 3, 2016Her job: Doctoral students' ombud, Chalmers University of Technology
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
With a move to Europe for personal reasons, I've found myself working in the GIG economy.
As the doctoral students' ombud, I assist PhD students with problems that arise in the course of their studies.
I do a little freelance research and a little lecturing.
As a Prof. Emeritus, from Canada, I also review grant applications, papers and applications for promotion as well sit on PhD grading committees.
Why did you choose engineering?
My mother was a science teacher and my father was a military (mechanical) engineer. I grew up in a house they designed and were building together. I suppose you could say I grew up "in engineering".
I loved sports but I was most challenged by math and science. Engineering seemed a natural fit.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
Three degrees from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada: B.Eng. (Mechanical), M.Eng. (Materials), PhD (Mechanical).
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
Early on, I was involved in the consulting side of things. After my PhD, my academic life was that of teaching, research and administration including student advocacy.
I also volunteered when I could in ways that both supported my work and were personally fulfilling. Now, as the doctoral ombud, my work is mostly in advocacy.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
Engineering is always changing and evolving but the fundamentals, e.g., Newton's Laws, are always there.
Ultimately engineers problem solve and work to make things better for people.
The people I have worked with are enthusiastic and caring. It makes going to work more fun.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
Development of special finite elements for numerical analysis of manufacturing processes such as welding.
Involvement with the tribunal (quasi-judicial) portion of a Canadian regulatory body.
Good teaching evaluations and occasionally, even now, receiving appreciative notes from former students.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
I have always been one of the few women in my area. This had both negative and positive aspects. I tried to focus on the positive.
One major challenge was "holding it altogether" when I was widowed and had three children to raise. Again, I tried to focus on the positive.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am married, to an engineer, and live in Europe. My two daughters and my son are also in engineering.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
Short term: to stay involved and active in my field and become fluent in Swedish.
Long term: a healthy and active retirement!!!
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My parents, especially my mother; several teachers in elementary and high school; a couple of top-notch mentors/professors; and several informal mentors during my career, have been critical.
I also used my love of sport to help in my career. It took time and training to develop as an athlete. The same is true for becoming an engineer.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
The most rewarding path is not always the most obvious path.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
Right now I am reading only Swedish books. I belong to a book circle of professionals, all women, who have moved to Sweden. About every second month we choose a new book - everything from classic literature to detective stories.
I enjoy walking and several times a month, my husband and I head off for a good walk with a coffee or picnic along the way.