Sandra Cruz-Pol

Current Position: Univ. of Puerto Rico at Professor
Sandra Cruz-Pol
Highlight Being in a male-dominated field makes people create some stereotypes in their heads of what a smart engineer looks like. :) I look very feminine, and know it's not a contradiction, but for some people it is. They expect to see the nerd image shown in popular media. So I am glad to show what the reality is, and I have had to prove myself to others sometimes. But the good thing is that you stand out for being a women, so if you do a good job everybody will remember. Now my older daughter is also studying engineering.
October 11, 2007Her job: Univ. of Puerto Rico, Professor
Describe what you do in your current work situation? I teach classes such as antenna design and electromagnetics and also advise graduate students on research in which we use radars to study clouds, rain and other natural phenomena. The main reason is to be able to understand and model them better, so that we can have better forecasts and climate prediction.
Why did you choose engineering? Because I love math and science. I loved the challenge they provide, of having to find a solution to a problem - it's like solving a puzzle. In addition, I wanted to be able to use the knowledge of science and math for new things that could help many people.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? I have a bachelors degree from University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, a masters degree from University of Massachusetts and a Ph.D. from Penn State University, all in Electrical Engineering.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? I get to work with students, advise them what to do, explain to them complex subjects in an easy way so that they can understand them and use them for solving a problem.
What do you like best about being an engineer? Being able to improve people's lives. I work with the design of a network of radars that will improve forecasting of hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and the like. It feels good.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? The satisfaction you get when you see something, knowing you can make it better, and then doing it! Engineers are always improving things, whether it's a radar, a cell phone, or a computer program. I am also very glad to involve my students in global issues awareness such as participating in fund raising for UNICEF.
Please tell us a little about your family. I have two smart daughters, 15- and 18-years old, and a very cooperative husband who is also an engineer. My children have been doing experiments with me since they were very young. Each of them has designed a web page of their own; they have great potential to be whatever they want to be. Now my older daughter is also studying engineering.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals? I would like to complete the radar project in which I'm involved now. I would like to help increase the number of women studying engineering and science, and help educate society about equal rights for women and children. I believe a small measure in the way we raise children can make a huge impact on their human development and future behavior. I will like to help people learn ways to help with our climate problems and will like fair distribution of resources in the world.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? My father - he was very supportive of his daughters studying careers normally considered "men only."
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering? Don't give up, don't be afraid of making mistakes or taking risks, and speak up. Don't be shy to show your talents and intelligence.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book. I love to do acrylic painting, especially portraits. I also partake in art and crafts, calligraphy, interior decoration, swimming, gardening, baking desserts, and dancing modern dance.