Ds Scholarship

Electrical Engineering Student Spotlight: Megan and Evelyn

Meet Megan, an electrical engineering student at the University of North Dakota

Megan is a final year student studying electrical engineering at the University of North Dakota.

How did you first become interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)? What inspired you to study electrical engineering?

When I was a kid, I didn’t know anything about engineering! I didn’t have a family that was in engineering and I always thought I would go to health care, like my mom, because I loved helping people.

Then I got a job in high school where I worked with a wheelchair-bound gentleman. Lee expressed how disappointed he was with the innovation around his wheelchair, and opened my eyes to the need for technology to constantly evolve. I came home as a sophomore in high school and searched Google for different jobs that help with this innovation, electrical engineering is what piqued my interest the most. I now know that there are many other ways to help people apart from direct patient care.

What are some of the really cool things that electrical engineers work on?

Some electrical engineers build computerized prosthetics, others design lights and sirens in fire trucks or drones, some work to change energy use from oil to solar and wind, and still others put components on small circuit boards that go into things like appliances. Pacemakers or big interference in computers!

Can you tell us about a time you failed and how you learned from it?

In my courses there are many times where I thought I’d build and design a flawless circuit or just test it until it fails. The biggest lesson I learned from these failures was to use them as learning experiences to grow my knowledge and seek creative solutions! Nobody learns without making mistakes.

What is a typical day for you as an electrical engineering student?

I found that the optimal focus time was between 9am and 3pm. This means that I try to get to campus during these times and use peak focus to get things done. Right now, I only have two or two classes a day, so between classes is when I study, work in the lab, eat, and collaborate with my friends and classmates. Some of this time is quiet and completely focused on the task at hand, and other days I walk around different areas doing homework and finishing labs.

At the moment, I’m working on a “BattleBot” build. This is a small robot with a weapon that my partner and I will control in a competition against other robots. The last surviving robot wins!

What do you like most about the University of North Dakota electrical engineering program?

What I love most about the University of North Dakota engineering program is the flexibility. We have a very well established distance engineering program which means that many of my classmates can take my class from all over the world and get the same education that I get on campus. Some of them work in industry, have families, and still have access to a quality education. This helps a lot with the variety of my classes as well.

How can people from diverse backgrounds, including women, contribute positively to the field of electrical engineering?

Diversity in experience, ethnicity, and education creates diversity in solutions. Different upbringing allows people to meet and solve problems in different ways. Others can come up with solutions you would never think of because the way their minds work is different than yours. Women tend to empathize, think and build relationships. It’s amazing how these characteristics can be linked to engineering solutions when we, as women, recognize them as strengths of the workforce rather than weaknesses.

What advice can you share for our readers who are interested in going to electrical engineering school?

I would say try to find a current student or college to talk to. They provide insight into the campus, community, and different engagement opportunities to see if it’s right for you. The campus is unique in its size, with around 11,000 undergraduate students, providing a sense of community beyond the larger universities. I would also recommend researching the city and what it has to offer to see if it’s a good fit. Some people feel small town, others wouldn’t be able to live without Chipotle. It’s all up to your taste and what you feel is important.

Meet Evelyn, an electrical engineering student at Vanderbilt University

Spotlight on Electrical Engineering Students: Megan and Evelyn -
Evelyn is a freshman studying electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

What did you know about electrical engineering as a kid? Can you tell us how you initially became interested in electrical engineering?

As a kid, I didn’t have much exposure to engineers. I remember thinking that engineers were similar to architects. I had no idea how many different opportunities there were in engineering!

My favorite game growing up was LEGO. Looking back, I think my experience with LEGO is what sparked my interest in STEM. During high school, I took part in Underwater Robotics and that’s what motivated me to pursue electrical engineering.

Can you tell us about the female engineers who inspired you during your studies?

Many women in electrical engineering inspire me. Here are some really cool things that electrical engineers have accomplished:

  • Margaret Hamilton: Developed the in-flight program for NASA’s Apollo program. This is the program that landed the first human on the moon in 1969!
  • Christina Koch: Electrical engineer broke the record for the longest individual space flight!
  • Mary Barra: General Motors’ first female executive! She is the first female CEO to drive any major automaker and is an electrical engineer!

We usually face all kinds of challenges, especially while pursuing our engineering education. Can you share how you overcame any challenges you faced in your studies?

You have overcome challenges in electrical engineering by staying organized and determined. Even when it’s hard, I make sure I remember the things I love most about electrical engineering and what inspired me to pursue electrical engineering.

How can women and people from culturally diverse backgrounds make positive contributions to electrical engineering?

Cultural diversity and gender inclusivity is vital to electrical engineering and all engineering disciplines; When people from different cultural backgrounds and viewpoints come together to solve a problem, a better and more comprehensive solution is found!

Can you describe a “day in your life” studying biomedical engineering and share what you like most about your program at Vanderbilt University?

This is a day in my life as an electrical engineering student:

8am-9am: I eat a healthy breakfast because I have a very energetic day!

9am-11am: I attend a general physics lab where I use practical experience to learn physics concepts that I can use in my later studies as an electrical engineer.

11 AM – 2 PM: I eat lunch with my friends and attend the study group with my classmates. I also use my spare time to get organized and move on with my homework.

2 pm – 4 pm: Attend a multivariate recitation and a lecture on calculus. This is my favorite class!

4 pm – 6 pm: I eat dinner with my roommates and relax! I like to walk around the campus when I have free time.

6pm-9pm: I am studying and completing my homework. I usually have a lab report that I need to edit from my morning physics lab. Once everything is done, I check my schedule for tomorrow and make sure everything I need is packed in my bag! Then I go to bed.

I always start my lessons at 9 am and finish by 4 pm. Some days I study general physics, other days I study general chemistry. Every day I study multivariate calculus. I have great professors and really enjoy my courses! I will be taking new courses after the winter break for the new semester.

What do you like most about Vanderbilt and its electrical engineering program?

My favorite thing about studying at Vanderbilt University is its amazing location. Nashville, Tennessee is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, so there are many opportunities for electrical engineers! Also my engineering teachers are great and love what they do so it makes learning so fun and natural.

can you sDo you have any advice for our readers who might be considering going to electrical engineering school?

My advice to girls considering electrical engineering is to find one aspect of engineering that inspires you first. For me, this is robotics and machine learning! Whenever I get frustrated or bored with my electrical engineering studies, I try to relate all my new knowledge to native emotions, robotics, and 3D modeling. By doing so, I realize how far I have come since I started my studies, and I feel even more motivated to keep going! Even if you don’t want to pursue engineering, there are plenty of alternative opportunities in STEM. I believe in you all, and I know you will do great things in STEM!

  • Spotlight on Electrical Engineering Students: Megan and Evelyn Electrical Engineering

    Alison Othmanson

    Alison Othmanson is a doctoral student in materials science and engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. She holds a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from the University of North Texas and a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from Washington State University. She plans to graduate in December 2021, after which she will be a Microelectronics Packaging Engineer at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas.

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