Ways We Can Inspire
Girls will respond to engineering if it’s presented as creative, enjoyable, personally fulfilling, and making a difference in the lives of others. Young women also react positively to personal stories about what life is like as an engineer. If you’re able to convey your own personal excitement about engineering and can communicate what life and work are like as an engineer, you’ll have an engaged and curious audience of young women.
The messages used on Engineer Your Life are meant as broad guidelines to help you formulate your own individual way of talking to girls. Take the spirit of the messages and make them their own.
Below are the messages, along with examples of how some of the women engineers featured on this site have conveyed their passion for engineering.
Live your life, love what you do.
Let girls know how much you enjoy your job, and how it reflects what you love in every part of your life, not just the workplace.
“I feel pretty lucky to have such a creative and interesting job. I’m surrounded by brilliant people. It doesn’t really seem like work. It’s just plain fun!”
–Judy Lee, Mechanical Engineer
“Being an engineer doesn’t mean you can’t have a life. You can be an engineer and have a social life and a family too. My engineering degree has allowed me to be whatever I have dreamed of being.”
–Erin Gately, Industrial Engineer
Creativity has its rewards.
Share how imaginative and intellectually stimulating engineering is, and let girls know how much you collaborate with others.
“I’m amazed at how creative you can be as an engineer and how much you can interact with other people. It’s not just sitting at a desk all day.”
–Rachel Fine, Mechanical Engineer
“Creativity is no doubt one of the major building blocks of a good engineer. An engineer’s goal is to solve a problem or design a system that has never been built. The more creative you are, the more possible solutions you'll come up with.”
–Chi-An Wang, Mechanical Engineer
Make a world of difference.
Talk to girls about what you do—and why it matters. Let them know that by dreaming up imaginative, practical solutions, engineers are changing the world all the time.
“I was really surprised by how much of engineering involves communication and leadership, and an empathy and an understanding of people. . . . Even though I’m not a doctor, I have some of the same impact because we make the equipment that’s in the doctor’s hands.”
–Lisa Schilken, Industrial Engineer
“The chemical sensor that I engineer can be used to detect dangerous explosives in airports or chemical weapons that can hurt our soldiers. . . . [Engineering] is never boring. I never stop learning. I feel that I can make a significant difference in society by working on new technologies to improve people’s lives.”
–Mona Masghati, Materials Engineer
Tell girls how much freedom there is within the field to find a job that’s right for them, and how an engineering education can prepare them for a whole range of interesting careers.
“I decided that although my undergrad and my masters were in chemical engineering, I wanted to learn about space. And so I started tying my chemical engineering research to space applications. . . . You can take one specialty, like chemical or aerospace, and still end up working in really diverse areas, which is what I did.”
–Vanessa Aponte, Aerospace Engineer
"I have a lot of friends from engineering school who are in med school now, or consulting, or doing finance, or they’re in law school, or they’re engineers. I think it really prepares you as far as problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and some intangible qualities you get with the education."
–Deirdre McShane, Civil Engineer
So what about the math and science requirements?
Once you’ve told girls why you’re passionate about engineering, and after you’ve convinced them it’s worth considering as a profession, then it’s time to fill them in about the math and science requirements. But, as the engineers quoted below have done, put it in context.
“[Math] is the basis of engineering, but you don’t have to love it. You just have to be able to do it.”
–Judy Lee, Mechanical Engineer
“The basics are incredibly important, so take your math and and try to do things that put you in situations where you have to find the answers, but not necessarily through book learning . . . do something to get your hands dirty. And figure out what you like, that's the big thing."
–Daniele Lantagne, Environmental Engineer
Watch a video clip of Daniele giving advice to girls.
For a young woman in the process of deciding what she wants to do with her life, these messages will resonate, offering her a clear, direct sense of how engineering might match her own dreams. For more messages that inspire girls, see Why Engineering? Ten Great Reasons.
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