Kristina Lawyer

Current Position: Research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory
Kristina Lawyer
Highlight There is no reason women can’t be engineers. While it is a predominately male field, I have never been treated differently because I am a woman.
Her job: Ph.D. Student, Michigan Technological University
Describe what you do in your current work situation? I am working on my PhD in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently doing research on hybrid vehicles and a study on service learning
Why did you choose engineering? I chose engineering because I like hands-on work, but I didn’t want to spend every day working in a shop. Engineering is a compromise between office work (reports, meetings, etc.) and laboratory work (experimentation, etc.).
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? I graduated from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in May '08 with a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering. I will have my Masters in Mechanical Engineering in December '10.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? I attend classes and conduct research in both the Mechanical Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering departments. My research is not laboratory based, so I spend most of my time in my office at my computer.
What do you like best about being an engineer? I like being able to look at a machine and figure out how it works. I now apply the problem solving skills I learned in engineering school to everything, and it allows me to understand things that I would otherwise have a hard time figuring out.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? I am most proud of how my accomplishments as a racecar driver fit together with my career. I have the great pleasure of pursuing my passion within my career.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career? The biggest challenge that I have faced is proper time management. Just like any demanding career, being an engineer requires lots of time and effort. At first I didn’t think I was able to put forth the effort nor had the time to be a good engineer, but through determination and lots of help from my professors, I learned how to accomplish everything that I needed to in the time I was given.
Please tell us a little about your family. I am an only child. My parents reside in Southern Indiana with our plethora of pets. My parents and I are very close and spend lots of time together. My extended family is rather small and resides all around the country.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals? I would like to be an engineering professor.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? When I graduated from high school my mother bought me a ring that has "To Thine Ownself Be True" scribed on it (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet). Every day when I put it on it reminds me to trust myself. I try to make choices by knowing what would be fulfilling to me, and beneficial for society as a whole.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering? There is no reason women can’t be engineers. While it is a predominately male field, I have never been treated differently because I am a woman. If you enjoy math, science and technology, an engineering career is both personally satisfying and a great way to improve our society. If you already know that you want to be an engineer, I advise you to stay sharp in math and improve your study skills (they can never be too good).
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book. My hobby is drag racing. I have driven a racecar since I was 7 years old and nearly everything in my life now revolves around racing. I have been successful on an amateur level and I hope to be successful on a professional level some day.