EngineerGirl @ Stanford University

#EngineerGirlShow highlights amazing women in engineering to inspire the next generation. This series was produced by George Retelas with his digital art students at SAE Institute

Watch interviews with Stanford University Professor Sheri Sheppard and engineering students Grace Young, Emily Bohl, Maria Filsinger, Marina Dimitrov, Ariana Qayumi.

Interview Transcript

Sheri Sheppard (SS): I teach engineering at Stanford University. My dad, who was an engineer, said, “why don't you try engineering?” And then my second year in college, I hit my first engineering class. And at the time I was, in most of my engineering classes, the only woman. And the professor got in front of us and was lecturing and he was using words that I had no idea what he was speaking. And I'm thinking that every guy in the room knows exactly what he's talking about, I mean they were born knowing that. So I went to the next class and one of the other students, and he happened to be a bit older and, you know I was what, 17 or 18 years old and he was maybe in his mid-20s, and he raised his hand right at the beginning of the class and he said to the professor, “I don't have the foggiest notion of what you're talking about.” And it was just like, “they don't know it either!” And after that it became really fun because education is all about asking questions.

What got you girls into engineering?

Maria Filsinger (MF): Look at the world and be like, okay just because it's been this way before does not mean this is the way it has to be. And if you take that mindset and you apply it to the teams you work on, the organizations you're a part of, the projects you do, I'm not going to just keep things going same way that they've been going before. And it's hard because people want to look at someone and say I can do that, but you have to say I can do better.

Were there any role models in your life that you looked up to?

Ariana Qayumi (AQ): Have you guys heard of Sheryl Sandberg? She's the COO of Facebook and she's like this short little powerhouse and it just always like, okay, like ladies, you have to sit at the table, and you have like lean in, meaning like, you have to be there, you have to show up and you have to be like, ready to act.

So what do you guys actually do in each of those classes?


Grace Young (GY): One of my favorite apps that I made this quarter was an app where if you press different cats they make different meowing noises. And all the people came out in the hallway and were looking for a cat, but it was just the app that I made. [laughter] So that was really fun.

Emily Bohl (EB): So I built a set of nesting stools. Basically if you know those Russian dolls, matryoshka dolls, that like fit inside each other. Because college dorm rooms are small, I wanted to make stools that fit inside each other so when you're not using them it takes up less space. And so I designed those from the beginning, then I modeled them in SolidWorks and then I actually was in the shop doing a ton of welding and also a lot of woodworking and now I have some really cool stools that I can use everyday.

MF: Oh my gosh, that’s awesome.

Marina Dimitrov (MD): So like, I'm interested in studying animals like tuna or birds, and then making cool robots out of that.

So for the last question, could we please have a hug?