Ursula Gibson

Current Position: Associate Professor at Dartmouth College
Ursula Gibson
Highlight It's way too easy to think that you have to be best - and much more important to do the best you can.
November 2, 2016Her job: Professor of Physics, NTNU
Describe what you do in your current work situation? 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.
Why did you choose engineering? 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.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? I did my undergraduate work at Dartmouth (AB, physics) and graduate work at Cornell (PhD, experimental physics)
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? In the lab, optical analysis of materials made various ways, and of course writing up the results and presenting them at conferences.
What do you like best about being an engineer? There is a lot of variety in my job and I get to solve many different kinds of problems.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? I like to think that I helped quite a few students, both engineering and non-engineering, to find an interest in materials science.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career? 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.
Please tell us a little about your family. 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.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals? 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.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? 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.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering? 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.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book. 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.