Elisabeth Drake
Dr. Elisabeth Drake
Emeritus Staff, MIT
MA

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  • Describe what you do in your current work situation.
    Though I am officially retired, I still team teach a graduate course at MIT on Sustainable Energy and participate in a variety of professional activities relating to engineering and environmental issues.
  • Why did you choose engineering?
    I wanted a profession that would allow lots of variety and real-world problem solving.
  • Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
    Got a SB in Chemical Engineering at MIT. After working for 6 years after graduation, I returned to MIT for a doctorate degree - so I would be able to teach as well as practice engineering.
  • What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
    Worked for a consulting company on many projects around the world related to energy production and transportation. Became interested in ways to manage safety and environmental performance using risk evaluation techniques.
  • What do you like best about being an engineer?
    Got a real sense of accomplishment in meeting a variety of challenges and seeing projects developed and built. Enjoyed working as part of a team where I could learn a lot from colleagues with different backgrounds.
  • Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
    Collaborating with some other MIT experts to develop a comprehensive course on energy options for the future and tools that can be used to find better pathways to a future energy system that is socially and environmentally sound
  • What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
    Started as an engineer when girls in the profession were unusual -- have enjoyed seeing more women enter the field and succeed professionally. Had some problems along the way, but learned that life sometimes brings new opportunities when I am open to changes
  • Please tell us a little about your family.
    Only child of two professional parents who always worked hard. Married an electrical engineer - marriage eventually failed because of my work addiction and misuse of alcohol. Now am happy with a life full of friends and adventures.
  • What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
    Learning new things in the short term -- the long term will evolve!
  • What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
    Had some great teachers when I was in high school who challenged me to try things that seemed  difficult.
  • What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
    Talk to engineers about their jobs -- and see if the types of things they do seem exciting. Hard work, lots of travel, teamwork, and a lot of opportunities are often part of it. If you love science and math, this is a good way to have a rewarding career.
  • Any other stories or comments you would like to share with EngineerGirl visitors?
    Talk to engineers about their jobs -- and see if the types of things they do seem exciting. Hard work, lots of travel, teamwork, and a lot of opportunities are often part of it. If you love science and math, this is a good way to have a rewarding career.
  • Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
    Like music, gardening, animals... and doing volunteer work in prisons.
Biography

Elisabeth Drake is currently Emeritus Staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. Dr. Drake's work focused on development of sustainable approaches to world energy usage. Although she is officially retired, she still team teaches a graduate course at MIT on Sustainable Energy and participates in a variety of professional activities relating to engineering and environmental issues..

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Latest Questions
  • Michaela, London

    Added Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 12:21 PM

    Hello, my name is Michaela and I am applying to do Chemical Engineering for the next academic year at university. I have great interests in the course and would really like to pursue it in order to achieve some goals I have for the future. However, I have heard too many times of how difficult the course is and how I would have no life. My science knowledge is a good standard but I am average in maths. Reading such negative comments has put me in a very tough place as to whether or not I should ...
    Answers 1
    Answered Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 12:21 PM
    Dear Michaela,  Many years ago (when girls weren't thought able to be chemical engineers, I enjoyed science classes.  I liked chemistry, but didn't want to work in a lab for the rest of my life. Some classmates were applying to MIT - and I thought about ...
    Read More
  • Lorena C., Miami, FL

    Added Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 5:49 PM

    Hi!, I am a chemical engineer student, and Im originally from Miami, FL. I love ChemE but, whenever I go to career fairs in my university, I notice that there are not so many job opportunities in my home town. Is my perception from the career fair true? will be too hard for me to find a job in Miami?
    Answers 1
    Answered Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 5:49 PM

    Dear Lorena, 

    Not sure where you are going to school, but if it is distant from Miami then smaller companies in Miami might not participate in your job fairs.  There is an AIChE local section in Central Florida.  (see:  ...

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  • Jeremy, Baltimore

    Added Sunday, August 16, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    Can I get chemical engineering job with a master's degree but no related bachelor's? In fact, my bachelor's degree is in neuroscience.
    Answers 1
    Answered Sunday, August 16, 2015 at 8:50 PM
    Dear Jeremy, There are plenty of chemical engineering jobs where your SB in neuroscience would be a plus.  It sounds like you have a master's in chemical engineering, so you are different from someone with only a neuroscience background.  Chemical ...
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