February 13, 2012Her job: Civil Engineering Intern, Colorado Department of Transportation
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
Currently I am working as a Civil Engineering Intern at the Colorado Department of Transportation. I work in the GIS data management department where I analyze assets to mitigate their risks by developing different models and tools. Basically, the project affords the opportunity to explore various aspects of engineering. I also am teaching in the Civil Engineering and Technology Department at Metropolitan State College of Denver as an affiliate faculty.
Why did you choose engineering?
I nurtured the desire to pursue a career in the field of engineering early in my high school days. This desire arose from the many obstacles I faced as a child in transportation to school. I used to arrive late at school due to poor road systems and uncontrolled traffic congestion.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I attended Florida Keys Community College where I obtained an AA degree in General Studies in 2005. Upon graduation I was honored to receive an invitation to research in China as part of the International Mission on Engineering program. Participation in this program in China played a major part in making me who I am today. The experience taught me how to work as a member of a team to accomplish tasks. It also made it clear beyond a doubt to me that Civil Engineering was my field of interest. In 2008 I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida and in 2010 a Master of Science degree in Transportation Engineering from the University of Colorado at Denver. Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado in Civil Engineering specializing in Sustainable Urban Infrastructure.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
I volunteer with American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) by participating in the activities of Habit for Humanity. I am also a member of Engineering without Borders-Rwanda team at the University of Colorado Boulder where I helped with a drip irrigation project. In addition, I volunteer as a civil engineering advisor at Colorado Association of Professional Black Engineers.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
The privilege I have as a civil engineer to participate in initiating or improving programs that aim at streamlining the transportation sector for the better life of human being.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
I am proud of many accomplishments in my career, but three stand out of them all: • My being placed on the Dean List at the Florida Keys Community College in 2003-2005. • Being invited to go to China as part of the International Mission on Engineering program. • Being awarded the Women’s Transportation Seminar Leadership Legacy Graduate Scholarship to support my studies at University of Colorado.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
I am challenged by the fact that I have many ideas that I think would be helpful and meaningful in my engineering career, but I am yet to acquire the engineering language to communicate those ideas adequately and pass them on to others for consideration. Learning such language is one of the targets I have set for myself for now in my career.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am the youngest of a family of five. My parents live in the state of Florida. I have one brother who lives in the state of Virginia and three sisters who live in the state of Florida.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
My short term goals are to complete the research project for my PhD program and obtain the PE license. My long term goal is to participate actively in the alleviation of the struggles of countless people around the world that suffer from lack of infrastructure and planning. I also have the desire to join the Engineers without Borders who are involved in helping my native country Haiti to improve road systems. Since I am planning to read my research papers in all the four languages that I speak, I would also wish to travel to many parts of the world to sell my research and encourage its implementation for the better feed for the benefit of the society.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My parents lead the pack of those who have had the greatest influence on my life. But I also have been influenced by many others, including mentors and networking colleagues.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
I would encourage them to search themselves and ensure that the interest they feel is genuine. If they are determined to pursue a career in engineering I would command the field to them, but warn them to be prepared to be a minority in a field in which men are a big majority.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
In my free time I like to play Tennis and Volleyball. I also like to solve puzzles. My favorite book is “Dear John”.