Title: Mechanical Engineer, Hazen and Sawyer
Educational Experience: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Northeastern University
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Professional engineer (P.E.) in New York
What does your day-to-day job entail?
I’m an HVAC/plumbing engineer at Hazen and Sawyer, which specializes in mostly wastewater and drinking water facilities. I work on taking projects from detailed design to construction. My day-to-day job typically includes performing HVAC calculations, designing HVAC and plumbing systems in Revit, coordinating with other disciplines, and responding to submittals during the construction phase.
What caused you to/when did you fall in love with engineering?
I started as a health science major in college and immediately didn’t love it. I was more of an analytical person and was drawn to math and physics. My big sister is a mechanical engineer and was definitely a big influence on my decision to switch into mechanical engineering my sophomore year. Once introduced to it, I fell in love with engineering right away.
What has been the most rewarding/proudest aspect of your engineering career?
Definitely receiving my P.E. license. It felt like the last thing I needed to validate my career as an engineer, and I’m incredibly proud of that. Another proud moment is when I led my first project on my own.
What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example? Why aren’t there more women in engineering? How can we increase the number of women in engineering?
Unfortunately, I have experienced the stereotypes of being a woman engineer. When I was younger, I’ve had people literally tell me engineering was for boys. Even in my current professional career, I do see a different perception between female and male engineers. It can be hard to be assertive in a male-dominated industry. There can be a tendency to cast doubt on your own capabilities or experience imposter syndrome when you’re the only woman in a room full of men.
As an industry, there is still a lot of work to do to bridge the gender gap. It’s important to invest in STEM and mentorship programs for young girls and women. It’s also important to see more women in leadership roles.
How many years have you been active in the engineering sector? What’s changed the most in that time? What’s changed the least?
I’ve been working professionally as an engineer for six years. My second internship during college was my first exposure to HVAC, and I would say the biggest difference is the introduction of diversity and inclusion initiatives. It’s encouraging to see the industry moving in this direction.
What drives/motivates you every day?
I enjoy working on interesting projects that have a positive impact on the community and environmental health. I’m also inspired by my colleagues to constantly learn and challenge myself.
What remains on your engineering bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?
I would love to be the engineer of record on a project, since I recently obtained my P.E. license. I’d also love to have the opportunity to work on more sustainable projects.
What’s one thing no one knows about you?
I can solve a Rubik’s cube in less than a minute.
List any mentors who’ve helped you succeed and describe precisely how they’ve shaped your success.
I wouldn’t be a mechanical engineer without my big sis, Ashley, doing it first, so I would like to thank her for the push to choose engineering in college. There are many engineering leaders who have been integral in supporting my career, including Paul Knowles, Sam Barrese, and Marc Giordano. They are always willing to answer questions and review design concepts. Also, I’d like to thank Norm Bartley for nominating me.
What advice do you have for prospective female engineers considering entering the field?
My biggest advice is to be confident when speaking your mind and to not be afraid to ask questions or admit when you don’t know something. Surround yourself with people who encourage you, whether it be mentors or colleagues with various levels of experience. It’s always good to have people in your corner.
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