Hi, could you introduce yourself?
My name is Emily. I am a graduate student at Virginia Tech studying civil engineering focusing on transportation systems engineering. I am also an Eisenhower fellow studying AI implementation into ITS.
How did you get into your current field?
I have always had a natural pull towards math and science. The summer after freshman year of high school a family friend suggested I look into engineering. So that fall I took part in the ACE Mentor Program (@acementor) which was my first exposure to civil engineering. I had always been fascinated with buildings, bridges, and traffic lights so it was a natural fit
What are your goals?
My ultimate goal is to become a professor and fix the culture prevalent in engineering school. While still in grad school I’d like to try to obtain a few more fellowships and publish at least 10 papers.
What are you working on?
Currently I’m working on research on AI implementation into ITS. It will look into how the technology will be implemented and the education of both the engineers and general public. I am also interning. So far I’ve been working on a retaining project in town. I also have worked on plans for I-81 if there were to be an accident to reduce delay for other motorists.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
I’ve had a ton of mentors over the years as my goals have changed. They have ranged from people 20-30 years into their career to some just a few years older than me. Right now one of my professors is probably my biggest mentor. She’s accomplished in the industry while having children and now grandchildren which is an important part of life for me.
Do you mentor anybody?
I’ve done a lot mentor of one-on-one mentoring in the past. Currently though I am using my blog (BlondeEngineeringGirl.com and @blondeengineeringgirl on Instagram) to serve as a larger platform for mentoring females in engineering. I share my experiences, as well as other females’. But I also always welcome people to message me privately if they have questions or are looking for guidance.
What advice do you have for people breaking into tech?
Everyone is going to have an opinion on what you do and they are just that-opinions. The naysayers are the ones that want you to fail typically because they did. Don’t let that discourage you. Prove them all wrong.
What could the tech industry do better to foster female talent?
I am really hopefully that as our generation moves up the ladder the culture will change. A lot of people in positions of power grew up in a generation where a woman’s job was to raise a family and make a home. They weren’t out working a “man’s job.” Until that happens I think there needs to be more attention brought to the inequalities that woman face in this industry.
Who do you follow?
You can read Natalie's interview here
Whats the best way to keep up with what you are doing?
Follow my blog! BlondeEngineeringGirl.com. I post about my experiences and journey towards a PhD on Monday’s and on Thursday’s I host a series called “You Are Not Alone.” It is a guest post series from other females who have faced discrimination.
More daily content can be found on my Instagram @BlondeEngineeringGirl.
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