Anne Spence
Dr Anne Spence
Clinical Associate Professor, Baylor University

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Close Up
  • What I Do
    Currently, I am a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMBC. I teach freshman engineering design to students who have just completed high school and started college. In that course, we learn about the things engineers need to make them successful. We also build something like a hot air balloon, a chemically powered car or a water balloon launcher. In the summer I teach your teachers how to teach engineering in the middle school. They learn how to build air-powered cars, marble sorters and catapults. Sometimes I do reasearch to try to figure out what gets girls interested in engineering and what keeps them in engineering in college. But the best part is talking to students about why I think engineering is a cool career!
  • Why Engineering?
    When I was a little girl, I launched model rockets in the backyard. I thought it was a lot of fun to build the rocket, launch it and try to catch it when it came back down. My dad would take me flying in our airplane and I loved taking the controls and flying around. In elementary and middle school, I really liked math and science, but the best part was that I liked being better at it than most of the boys in my class. In college, I first wanted to be a computer scientist, but then I worked on designing parts of ships by using a wind-tunnel and I got hooked on Aerospace Engineering. I was a much better engineer than a computer scientist!
  • School Days
    I got my Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla (soon to be called the Missouri Institute of Science and Technology), my Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas-Arlington and my PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland-College Park.
  • My Day At Work
    After I graduated from college, I went to work for Bell Helicopter in Texas. The best part of my job was that I got to go down to the flight testing facility and fly in the helicopters to learn more about how they flew. Then I would design flight simulators that flew like the real helicopter. I even got to fly the helicopter once! That was really cool!
  • Best Part
    The best part about being an engineer is coming across a challenge or problem that needs to be solved. I put on my thinking cap and, using all of the training I have, I design a solution. It is even more fun when you work on a team with other people to solve the problem! Then you get the benefit of everyone's experience and knowledge.
  • Proud Moments
    I think the best part about being an engineer is that I can have a family as well. I am most proud of my family - my husband and two boys. A second runner up would be that I was the first woman to receive a PhD in Aerospace Engineering in Rotorcraft at the University of Maryland.
  • Challenges
    A few of the professors that I had in college told me that women should not be engineers, so I proved them wrong by being the top student in their class. When I started work, I had to work with some guys who thought women could not be engineers. I worked hard and did my best and soon they wanted me to be the handling qualities engineer on all of their projects!
  • My Family
    My husband is a mechanical engineer and my father was an aerospace engineering professor - I even had him for 3 classes - ugh! I have two middle school aged boys who love to play soccer and lacrosse. They are also interested in LEGO Robotics.
  • Dreams and Goals
    I hope to become a tenured professor in the next couple of years - that means that I can continue to teach at the university for many years to come. In the long-term, I would like to become an associate dean of engineering so that I can focus on recruiting and retaining women in engineering.
  • Inspiration
    I guess that my mom and dad influeced me the most since they always told me that I could do anything that I wanted to do. Sally Ride is pretty cool, too!
  • Want to be an Engineer?
    My best advice - don't let anyone stop you. Try to find a woman engineer that will coach you through the tough times. Keep taking math and science in school and don't let the boys do all of the fun hands-on stuff!
  • Additional Thoughts
    My best advice - don't let anyone stop you.
  • Hobbies
    I like to watch movies, read, play soccer and volleyball, and travel with my family.
Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
  • I am willing to answer written interview questions to be posted on the EngineerGirl website.
  • I am willing to participate in a conference call with a group of interested students who would like to know about my career.
Latest Questions
  • Divine asked Anne Spence, Baylor University

    Added Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 5:59 PM

    Hello, I am currently a senior in High School and am interested in rockets, airplanes, space exploration, and robotics (especially ones that could potentially go and explore other planets). Based on my interests Aerospace engineering seemed like the best major for me but after doing research I found that people recommended getting a mechanical engineering degree instead so that I don't "pigeonhole" myself. What do you think? I am mostly scared that I will not learn crucial information for my ...
    Related to Aeronautical/Aerospace , Choosing a Degree, Engineering Branches, Mechanical, Merging Fields, Preparation for College
    Answers 0
  • Beatrice

    Added Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 4:02 PM

    I'm in the second year of my aerospace degree and despite doing well in my courses and enjoying and understanding the material, I feel like I'm not good enough to be a good engineer. Being the only girl in my class I feel doubtful when i see so many other students knowing exactly what they want to do and where and why, while I don't even know a lot about what I'm going to do with my degree... Help?
    Answers 1
    Anne Spence, Baylor University
    Answered Monday, May 15, 2017 at 12:44 PM
    My dear, Beatrice.
    It is not unusual for you to feel this way. Trust me when I say that very few of the guys in your class have these feelings and they are most likely getting much poorer grades than you are! As women, we often must fight against the ...
    Read More
  • Nkosinomusa, Graduate Engineer/ Bulawayo Zimbabwe

    Added Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 9:23 AM

    I graduated with a BSc Aeronautical Engineering degree but have failed to get employment as an engineer. Have always wanted to be an engineer from the time i was a young girl. How do I keep relevant without being employed as an engineer? Is pursuing a masters the right step or will this completely take me out of the job market and make me unemployable? How can I secure employment in this environment Regards
    Answers 1
    Anne Spence, Baylor University
    Answered Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 9:23 AM
    Great question! You will definitely BE EMPLOYABLE with a masters degree. It is becoming more important in the aerospace industry. Also check in with folks that you know to make sure that your resume looks good. Ask for advice on your interviewing style. ...
    Read More
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