Mechanical Engineer I, Aerospace Manufacturer
The only way to change the status quo is to actually go for it.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am a mechanical engineer and project manager. My company manufactures heavy metal machinery for aerospace and defense companies. The engineering side of my role involves 3D modeling, drafting engineering drawings, running finite element analyses, performing calculations, and providing support and guidance to the shop. As a project manager, I am also the point person for each of my projects. I manage the schedule, keep my customers informed, order and keep track of all materials, and see the project through from start to finish.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
I knew I wanted to go into STEM most of my life. From a practical standpoint, I knew engineering had decent pay and job security. My dad was a mathematician and programmer and always encouraged my STEM side. I did well in math and science at school which encouraged me further. One of my biggest inspirations was my highschool chemistry teacher. She had a major impact on me; she was like a mentor and loving aunt at the same time. It really helped to see a woman in a STEM role from an early age. I eventually decided on mechanical engineering because it seemed like a broad category of engineering, and I would have a somewhat larger range of jobs to choose from.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"
Honestly, putting myself out there and finding an engineering job is a pretty big one. I swallowed my fear, went to career fairs, and talked myself up to companies, although at the time I did not feel I had experience worth bragging about. Another would be standing up for myself in a field surrounded by (let's face it) older and more experienced men. I have always tended to be a quiet, non-confrontational person. But throughout my journey, I learned to be headstrong and advocate for my projects and ideas. I am proud of myself for climbing out of my shell to where I am today.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?
I love problem-solving, and conveniently it is at the core of what I do as an engineer.
BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?
I would say try to not be discouraged by the disproportionate ratio of men to women. It is far too easy to feel like an impostor as a woman in STEM, and I know it can dissuade many from fully pursuing it. But the only way to change the status quo is to actually go for it. Another thing I would advise is to find and reach out to women in established STEM roles. Women mentors were the best source of guidance and inspiration for me, as they are living proof that it is possible to be a successful woman in STEM.
INSPO / FUN FACT