International Women in Engineering Day
June 23, 2020
International Women In Engineering Day is recognized all over the world to celebrate the accomplishments of female engineers. A day dedicated to sparking conversations in everyone about the impact women have had and are having in all technology fields.
We asked a panel of doctoral students to share their thoughts on the day.
Meet the panel
What inspired you to pursue an engineering degree?
When I was a little girl, my mom was getting her electrical engineering degree, and I grew up seeing her work in the electric power industry. I had the fortunate opportunity to learn a lot about an industry and career that isn’t visible to a lot of girls growing up. I study and work in electrical power systems as well, and absolutely love it.
From my school days, I was interested in learning, and implementing different concepts of physics. I could remember the joy I felt after doing the Archimedes principle experiment with two eggs and saltwater. That was fun! I had participated in many science exhibitions, where I got the opportunity to make many models like lit up small LEDs with limes. All these directed me towards engineering where I can contribute to the cutting edge technologies which are driving the current era to the direction where anything and everything is possible.
I was inspired to pursue an engineering degree upon learning about the Fourier Transform. I found the idea of being able to take a time series, such as a song or any type of signal, and represent it in terms of its frequency components to be quite profound. It provides us with the ability to essentially switch between worlds just by using mathematics, one world based in time and the other in frequency. As well, the fact that we have the ability to mathematically represent, dissect and manipulate the building blocks of music, something so integral to human culture, is mind-blowing to me.
What advice do you have for young girls with engineering dreams?
Don’t be afraid to make people aware of your goals. Many times they can help you explore your options or connect you with resources for Women in STEM. There are many scholarships available to young women pursuing STEM degrees which can help with the cost of school.
Do not limit yourself. Nothing is impossible.
At the risk of sounding cliché, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. I started my PhD in engineering with undergraduate degrees in the social sciences and humanities. Because of this, many people tried to discourage me from pursuing a graduate-level degree in engineering. I didn’t listen to them though, and I’m glad I didn’t. Although I had to work extremely hard to get to the same level intellectually as everyone else in my PhD program, I succeeded. And if I succeeded, then I think anyone can. Even if you have zero knowledge of a certain topic or are seemingly unqualified to do something, you can learn anything you want.
Who are your engineering role models?
My first engineering role model is my mom. I also admire Edith Clarke for being a pioneer for women in the electrical power systems field.
My PhD advisor, Dr. Antonia Papandreou-Suppappola. She is the hardest working woman I have ever met besides my mom. She is also hilarious and seems to always find a way to enjoy life and not take things too seriously. From her I have learned that one can have an incredibly successful career while still having fun in life. I hope that I am able to follow in her footsteps as I continue my path in academia.
The School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering is celebrating all of the women scholars and engineers who are trailblazing new paths for all of us!