February 25, 2014Her job: Engineer I, Baxter Healthcare Corporation
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
As an engineer, I design, manage, install, and support equipment used to produce medical devices.
Why did you choose engineering?
In my senior year of high school, I took a networking class by Cisco. The teacher of the class was the school sponsor for the local FIRST Robotics Competition team and suggested that I get involved. I was mildly interested in technology and a good friend of mine was on the team, so I decided to give it a shot.
Before I joined the team in 2006, my career aspirations were in the field of medicine. I had never considered engineering as a career choice for me. After 6 short weeks of the FIRST Robotics Competition build season, I decided that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. I went on to the University of Arkansas where I received my degree, and now I work in the engineering department at Baxter Healthcare Corporation. Also, while I was on the team, I had a chance to spend time with a wonderful man who is now my husband. FIRST changed my life. I have a husband and a career that I love. I am a mentor because I want to give back to this program.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
Engineering challenges me. Every day my work is changing and evolving. It is not always easy. I do not always have all the answers, but I work hard to find them. I am continuously learning about new technology and processes. There is never a dull moment.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
My journey has not been without its struggles. Early on, I had to take full financial responsibility for my education. My family was supportive of my ambitions but unable to financially contribute. I had a part time job throughout college, received some financial aid, and took out loans to pay for school. It was the best investment I ever made.
As a woman, and therefore the minority in engineering, I came across those that did not believe I was serious about my career choice or that I could make it through the grueling curriculum. I proved them wrong.
As a young engineer in the field, I am working to gain the respect of my peers and more experienced engineers. All the challenges I have faced have been well worth it, because I am now doing something I love.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I have an amazing husband, Derrick and two dogs, Winnie and Pepper.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
In my career, I hope to stay in the engineering department at Baxter Healthcare Corporation and take on more responsibility and larger projects.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
I would have to say my husband has been the greatest influence in my life. Even before we started dating, he encouraged me to be more and more involved with the FIRST program, which fueled my desire to go into engineering. He was there throughout my college career reminding me that I could do it. Even now, he inspires me to continue to work hard and learn all I can.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
Engineering is an exciting and fulfilling career choice. Embrace the fact that you will be in the minority. It means that you will likely have a fresh new outlook on engineering that your peers may not possess. You will be an asset to any company and no matter what anyone says.
Stick with it; you won’t be disappointed.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I love the outdoors and traveling. My husband and I spend many days in the summer on our boat, wake surfing, wake boarding, and relaxing.