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International Women in Engineering Day 2019

“Women may be outnumbered in engineering, but we’re certainly not alone! Developing that community is important to me.”
Melisa Rodriguez, PE, SET

Senior Structural Engineer Elizabeth FischerElizabeth J. Fischer, PE
Senior Structural Engineer
Minneapolis

Q:  How did you decide to study engineering?

A:  In high school, I received a scholarship to attend “Women in Engineering,” hosted by Michigan Tech University.  My parents drove me across two state lines so I could attend. It was only one week long, but it was a game changer for this small-town farm kid!

Q:  Did you have a mentor to encourage you to study engineering?

A:  Several. My parents always encouraged me to try new things, but it was my drafting and design high school teacher who really pushed and helped me get the scholarship to Michigan Tech.  I think she knew I needed the extra push to see what was out there!

Q:  Why did you choose your particular field of engineering?

A:  I was first interested in civil because I thought it meant I’d get to be outside! Fortunately, I was able to get some great internships with Caterpillar and Kiewit to learn more about the many facets of engineering. I found out what I liked, and more importantly, what I didn’t like. I also spent several summers helping my dad install HVAC systems in residential homes, so I’d get to see the nuts and bolts of buildings and how they went up.

Q:  How do you encourage girls/young women to pursue engineering careers?

A:  By staying involved in my community. I’ve had a number of young women job shadow me over the years because they know me, or their parents do and want their daughters to have exposure to a technical field. Most of the young women I’ve talked to over the years have all ended up in science/tech fields, and a few even went the route of structural engineering.

Q:  Provide one or two sentences that sum up who you are.

A:  To describe myself is probably easiest by describing the hats I wear! Student, teacher, friend, mother, daughter, sister, creator, entrepreneur, gardener, volunteer.

Director of Fire Protection Engineering Melisa RodriguezMelisa A. Rodriguez, PE, SET
Associate, Director of Fire Protection Engineering
Minneapolis

Q:  How did you decide to study engineering?

A:  I hadn’t even realized that engineering was a profession until my high school science teacher nominated me for an award sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). In college, I was studying medical technology and saw a flier for a SWE meeting. I remembered SWE from the award that I won in high school so I stopped by a meeting. After that, I was hooked.

Q:  Why did you choose your particular field of engineering?

A:  In college, I was still getting to know who I was as a person. I was studying mechanical engineering knowing it could lead to a career in biomedical engineering, which was still my main interest. I was taking a shortcut across campus one day and stumbled onto a career fair. One of the employers stopped me and asked about my major. He was representing a fire protection contractor. It sounded like a great first step so I accepted an internship with that company and have been into fire protection engineering ever since.

Q:  How do you encourage girls/young women to pursue engineering careers?

A:  I participate in STEM career presentations at schools in our area and make a point to connect with other women in engineering. Women may be outnumbered in engineering, but we’re certainly not alone! Developing that community is important to me.

Q:  What do you like most about being an engineer?

A:  I like structure and logic. There are a definite in-put and out-put to engineering, a cause and effect premise to what we do. I’m a bit of a control freak so this really speaks to me.

Q:  Provide one or two sentences that sum up who you are.

A:  I’m a “non-engineer-y engineer.” I’m outgoing and I love dealing with people. At the same time, the structure and science of engineering feel like home.

Senior Electrical Project Engineer Yumei WangYumei W. Wang, PE, RCDD, LEED AP
Senior Associate, Senior Electrical Project Engineer
Omaha

Q:  How did you decide to study engineering?

A:  Science and physics were the fields I liked the most when I was in my middle and high schools. Working in engineering is just a continuation of what I like.

Q:  Why did you choose your particular field of engineering?

A:  I was intrigued about how electrons and electricity work and what they could do!

Q:  How do you encourage girls/young women to pursue engineering careers? 

A:  I would tell them that women engineers are few but we are among the best in the field!

Q:  What do you like most about being an engineer?

A:  We build and create things that can be seen by the public. We help our clients with better engineering options and we help contractors solve problems on construction sites. We stay on top of technologies and help our industry head in the right direction.

Q:  Provide one or two sentences that sum up who you are.

A:  I work hard and am responsible for what I do. I strive to be the best when serving our clients and helping others. I love spending time with my family and friends when I am off from work.