March 6, 2009Her job: Chemical Engineer, ANSER
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I perform technical analysis for the U.S. Department of Defense on novel technology solutions being developed to meet strategic military needs.
Why did you choose engineering?
Engineering has such diverse applications, such as everyday tasks, medicine, and advanced research. Today more than ever, engineers contribute to almost every single aspect of our lives — the products and technology we use for work and play, the way we communicate and travel, the foods we eat and the air we breathe. I chose engineering because I wanted to do something that had the potential to affect people's everyday lives.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and received my BS in Chemical Engineering. Soon after I started working, I enrolled in a certificate program at Stevens Institute of Technology to study Systems Design and Operational Effectiveness. I found this design-oriented curriculum so interesting that I soon extended my studies, and just completed my ME in Systems Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
I perform technical analysis for the U.S. Department of Defense on novel technology solutions being developed to meet strategic military needs. Occasionally I participate in site visits and attend program meetings where I have the opportunity to work with large technology development teams.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
I really enjoy examining a problem at both the system- and component-levels. This strategic problem solving process gives me an incredible appreciation for the intricacy of the solution. My work offers me the opportunity to concentrate on component technology development, as well as the integration of those component technologies to design a solution system. Being surrounded by cutting-edge research continuously reminds me that there is no single solution to any engineering problem.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
I am most proud of recently earning my masters degree after 2 years of classes and thesis work while still working full time. It was a challenging work-school balance, but the rewards have been worth it.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
Earlier in my career, I was assigned to a project that covered a topic area I was unfamiliar with, but I knew I had the science and engineering tools to acquaint myself. The project was fast-paced and allowed me to work with some of the most brilliant engineers I’ve ever met. After 1.5 years of hard work, my client wanted me to help develop and supervise the final tests on the project. Although it was a tough work assignment, I felt honored to see the project through to the end and had demonstrated my ability and willingness to learn to well-respected colleagues.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am very close to my family – they’ve always encouraged me during my engineering studies and career and set an incredible example. My parents and my big sister set an admirable and challenging example for me, and they have taught me that education is one of life’s most worthwhile and valuable pursuits.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
I work on projects that often take several years to complete, and so first, I would really like to see my current project through to the end. In the long term, I’d like to get my PhD and get back in the lab to do research!
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My family has taught me how important it is to work hard and be the best you can be at the things that interest you most. In college, I participated in a few campus activities that taught me to be strong and outgoing, and how to be a good leader—lessons I recall routinely in my professional life.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
Work hard and stay focused, and investigate every opportunity that comes your way. There are so many programs, events, and networks you can tap into as a young woman interested in an engineering career now! In summary, you can do anything you want.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I love to read, travel, ride my bike, and cook. Washington, D.C. is a great place to be and I love it—its a beautiful, historic, and invigorating city with so much to offer and a really great place to work!