Beth Manners is an electrical engineer with a BSE from Tufts University. She has worked as an engineer and project manager for a French hydroelectric equipment supplier. She is currently an independent consultant. Jordon Bloom interviewed her in January of 2015 in Westport Connecticut because she was interested in learning more about the struggles and triumphs of female engineers.
Why did you decide to study engineering?
When I took physics and learned about electricity for the first time, I found it fascinating. I always excelled in math and science, so I wanted to choose a career where I could utilize my strengths.
What type of engineering did you study and where?
My undergraduate degree is in engineering is from Tufts University, and I have a Masters in Business Administration from AdeIphi University.
What did you do for work?
I worked in project management for a company that makes hydroelectric turbines.
What exactly is a hydro turbine?
In order to make electricity, you need to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. A hydroturbine takes the energy from a river, and uses it to turn an electrical generator.
What did you like best about your job?
I worked for a French company and I liked that my work was international. The company I worked for sourced the hydroturbines in France, Spain, and Brazil. The generators th at we bought were also sourced internationally. I enjoyed working with engineers from around the world.
Did you face any challenges as a woman in engineering, if so what were they?
Back when I went to engineering school only 2-3% of my classmates were women. Most of the boys had grown up building projects and playing with blocks, legos, cars. While the girls didn’t really have that experience. A lot of the mechanics that were intuitive to the boys, were not obvious to the girls. So I had to spend extra time learning what should’ve been simple mechanics.
What advice would you give to a young woman pursuing a career in engineering?
I would say that not only should young women study science and math, but they should also try and be practical by getting out there and building things.