Why Engineering?

Why Engineering? – It’s down to earth

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Ask an Engineer, Why Engineering? |

In one way or another, I have always been interested in science.  When I was in elementary school, my goal was to be an astronaut.  But I quickly realized that if I couldn’t stomach riding roller coasters, then taking trips in the Space Shuttle probably wasn’t an ideal career path for me. I stuck with my ambition to be near the stars, however, and set my sights on being an astrophysicist.  My plan was to get a degree in physics and then continue my studies in a doctoral program.  By my last semester of college, I realized that I wasn’t cut out for a graduate level program in Physics. 

There weren’t many companies hiring Physicists at the time, especially those with just a Bachelor of Science degree.  Since I was pretty good at programming computers and wiring up circuits and engineers were able to find good paying jobs, I thought about becoming an engineer.  Fortunately, my college had an agreement which allowed the transfer of all my math and science credits to the University of Kentucky’s Engineering School, where I majored in Electrical Engineering. 

Two years later, I had degrees in  Electrical Engineering and Physics.  I don’t regret my decision.  I still sit on my deck and look at the stars, but I know this is where I am meant to be.

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Why Engineering? – For the challenges and rewards

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Ask an Engineer, Why Engineering? |

My two main interests in school were math and science. Of my science courses, I especially enjoyed the study of  biology.  I knew I either wanted to  become an engineer or a veterinarian.  I was able to learn more about the life of a veterinarian when my family’s vet graciously offered for me to shadow him.  In his veterinary practice, he cared for small and large animals and he worked extremely long hours, to say the least.  This experience helped me decide that the vet field definitely wasn’t for me, especially if I wanted to have a family (which I did).  So, I went back to the engineering option. There are many engineers in my family, and it just seemed natural fit for me.  My mom tells a story of when I was 4 years old and she found me upstairs, where I had taken a radio apart.  Some things are just meant to be, I guess.  Knowing that I would be able to make a nice living as an engineer was an added plus.  Engineering has proven to be the challenging and rewarding career that I hoped it would.

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Why Engineering? – Three degrees in one

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Ask an Engineer, Why Engineering? |

I approached my senior year of high school uncertain of what path I would pursue in college.  That I would attend college was a given, as this was the mid 70’s and my parents had instilled the value of education in me throughout my childhood .  Both of my parents set an example by pursuing continuing education.  My dad obtained an associate’s degree via correspondence courses (yes, this was before computers and the internet) while my mom attended continuing education offered through the local community college.

At my high school, I was blessed to have the support of a counselor and three teachers who each thought that I ought to major in their specific subject (math, chemistry and physics).  Mid-year, my classmates and I were discussing our college plans before class started – the guy sitting in front of me told me that he was going into engineering.  He went on to explain that he had an uncle who was an engineer and that he knew engineers make great money.  I could tell where his focus was!  However, he did know enough  to tell me that if I chose Chemical Engineering, I could combine my math, physics and chemistry interests in ONE degree.  That was the deciding point for me even without knowing anything else about engineering.  No way was I doing a triple major!   

That year my high school graduated four students who went to college to pursue degrees in engineering:   two females and two males.  Even though my high school was one of the largest in the state, the four of us were the first students to choose engineering as a course of study.  The other female enrolled in Bioengineering with the intentions of going to medical school. Later, she changed her mind and remained in the engineering field.  The guy who told me about engineering changed his major to grain science and milling.  The other male has remained in the Mechanical Engineering field and now owns his own company. 

Prior to starting classes at my college, I did examine engineering more by attending the  engineering sponsored open house.  Engineering Open House was (and remains) a large event at my college with many booths, competition between the departments, a parade, and a banquet.  I also attended a girls-only Saturday event for students interested in majoring in engineering and science.

Looking back, I am glad I participated in the coop program offered by my college.  I chose to work for a non-traditional Chemical Engineering company and was able to experience the variety of work available to those with an  engineering degree.  Throughout my career, I have worked in the following areas:

  • pilot plant waste water treatment facility
  • implementation of hazardous waste requirements and material safety data programs
  • painting booths (for large equipment)
  • molding of o-rings
  • environmental exposure (sand and salt)
  • washing tanks (removal of machining fluids during manufacture of subassemblies)
  • molding of plastics (nylon and other polymers – for fishing line, toothbrushes, and computer plastics)
  • large scale batteries (65+ pounds).

Because of my early job assignments, I seriously considered making Environmental Engineering  my field of concentration.  I held those positions in the late 70’s when many environmental regulations were being passed and brought into the work place for the first time.  My current area of focus, large scale batteries,  suits my personality well because there is a  HUGE emphasis on quality and doing things right the first time. 

Make sure you consider the possibilities and the variety of options available to you as an engineer.

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Why Engineering? – Because I like math and science

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Ask an Engineer, Why Engineering? |

During my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I decided on science and math as subject areas to study in college.  By the time I was a senior in high school, I chose to pursue engineering at Purdue.   However, I was also interested in the life sciences,  especially anatomy and physiology. While earning a degree in Electrical Engineering and a masters in Computer Engineering, I  took courses in Biomedical Engineering,  anatomy and physiology.

I would have preferred to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering , but in the mid 1980’s the job opportunities were not as abundant as they are now for Biomedical Engineers.  Although I have worked in the defense industry my whole career, I am always still looking at job opportunities in Biomedical Engineering.  I think the skills I attained as an engineer in the defense industry are very transferable to the Biomedical Engineering field.

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Why Engineering? – It’s interesting

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Ask an Engineer, Why Engineering? |

When I was in high school, I gravitated toward math and science courses.  During my junior year, I had a very dynamic chemistry teacher who immediately sparked my interest in Chemical Engineering the day he mentioned it.  I absolutely loved the chemistry class because the subject matter was extremely interesting.  I also enjoyed the optional course devoted only to lab experiments, which pulled in aspects of math and physics.  I remember going home and announcing to my parents that I was going to become a Chemical Engineer.  Until that moment, they had never even heard of the field!

Although I briefly considered becoming either a chemist or a pharmacist, neither of those professions had the same appeal to me as engineering.  The engineering courses were not the easiest, but the sense of accomplishment was well worth the effort.

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Why Engineering? – It’s fun

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Ask an Engineer, Why Engineering? |

As I was growing up, I wanted to be many different things: a teacher, a dentist, a doctor, a sociologist, a graphic designer, an artist, a writer, etc. I never thought I wanted to be an engineer. In fact, I always thought an engineer had a boring job where they sat in an office cubicle with white walls and dull colors, surrounded by silence.

During high school, I took a career test that was supposed to help me decide what career to choose. After taking the test, I had many options from which to choose, but one word kept showing up: engineering. At first, that word made me cringe, but after talking to different people about what it meant to be an engineer, my opinion started to change. You see, my impression of an engineer was warped. Engineers were not boring people who sat around crunching numbers all the time in a back corner. They were actually fun and interesting people.

It was at this time that I really started to look into engineering as a possibility for myself. I realized that I could be an engineer and still be myself at the same time. Engineers are people who like to think, people who like to solve challenging problems. They are get-in-there-and-do-something people. They are people like me.

My dad also encouraged me a lot. He told me to reach high with my goals. Yes, I could be a graphic designer if I wanted to, but I would be one among thousands. How do you stand out in those numbers? But as a woman engineer, I could make a real difference; I could be somebody. Yes, it would be challenging, but who wants a boring job?

Suddenly, engineering now sounded fun; I saw it as an adventure. I was going to learn how things worked, learn how to build things, and even design new things. Engineering seemed like an endless world of possibilities waiting to be found.

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Why Engineering? – To help people

Posted on August 25, 2011. Filed under: Ask an Engineer, Why Engineering? |

Since my dad is an engineer, I always knew engineering was a career option.  However, I didn’t seriously consider it until my senior year of high school when I had to choose a major on my college applications. At some point in the process, my mom suggested Biomedical Engineering because it combined the science/math subject areas that I did well in at school with the medical aspect that had always interested me. Back in 2nd grade, when I got glasses, I was amazed at how the doctor could give me such a simple thing like glasses to make a huge improvement in my life. From then on, I admired doctors and thought I wanted to be one. Around college application time, I realized that Biomedical Engineering would be a better fit for me than medicine because it isn’t as demanding a career as being a doctor.  Now that I am working as a Biomedical Engineer, I still have the chance to help others like the eye doctor helped me. It’s more of a behind the scenes role, where I help with the design and development of medical devices.

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