Growing up, I was never quite sure what I wanted to be. I was a typical teenage girl, with a love of fashion and a phone surgically attached to my ear. I had a great many interests and my favourite subject at school was math. I loved to shop and sew and knit and any other crafty type of thing I could get my hands on.
Did I know what engineers did? Not really. I thought about Architecture, but I wasn’t sure that I was artistic enough for that. Engineering appealed to me because it was organized and logical and at the end of the day, there was a correct answer – or a best answer at least. So, I headed out to get my degree in the field of mechanical engineering. Why mechanical? Well, it is not just about cars. Mechanical engineering is a very broad type of engineering, so I was able to try out many different subjects and figure out what I liked and what I didn’t. I took courses in materials and manufacturing, which I loved, and courses in automotive engine design and airplane performance, which I didn’t. The great thing was that I found what I loved. I love to test out different materials (steel and metals, plastics and ceramics) to see when they break. I love taking something that is broken and sleuthing out what happened to it – very CSI. And I love redesigning the machine, airplane, stapler, camera, and whatever else you can think of, in order to make it stronger and last longer.
When I got to the end of my studies, I thought why stop here. I continued to do a Master's and Ph.D., specializing in my favorite material – Composites. Why are they so special? Composites are the combination of two or more materials…like steel-reinforced concrete, Fiberglas-epoxy, carbon fibre and even chocolate chip cookies. They behave in weird and wonderful ways and can be stronger and stiffer than the toughest steel (not the cookies, they are just delicious).
During this time got married, had a child, wrote my thesis and developed a love of teaching. And that’s how I found myself at Conestoga where I taught for 10 years before becoming Chair of the department.
I found out that engineering is creative. It is inventing and imagining the future. Cars that drive themselves, lights that turn off when you leave the room, high-tech athletic fabrics that are anti-bacterial and glow-in-the-dark and, best of all, apps that tell you when your favourite shoe store is having a sale! And this is ‘in the now’. Can you imagine the future? If you would like to, then you should think about becoming an engineer too.