Every day I watch my daughter play with her dolls, tell prince and princess stories, wonder what dress to wear tomorrow, etc. Her actions remind me of when I was a little girl. Now, I am a controls engineer. My daily work is putting drawings together with controllers, sensors, etc., dealing with installers, and wearing steel toe boots and safety gear to go to job sites from time to time. This is really different compared to what I dreamed of as a kid.

My dad was a transportation professor and my mom was an accountant. Both of them are retired now. They’ve been helping me and encouraging me since I was in first grade. Every time I received a bad grade, my dad would have a conversation with me. We would sit together and find out how and why I got the wrong answer(s). Gradually, I grew more independent and I would have those conversations with myself. They always supported me, but they never pushed me or even told me which major I should choose for the future.

I still remember clearly during a brutal winter day, I had been staying outside for a couple of hours. I rushed to a big shopping center to get warm. In the lobby, a group of people were standing there, and a lady was in the center. She was talking about the “design” of the building and the associated systems. I didn’t understand anything that she said. I don’t remember what she looked like. But I do remembered one sentence she said, “this is the building I designed.” I could tell from her voice that she was very proud of it.

After that moment, I began to take a more STEM-focused curriculum and chose HVAC design as my major in college. From there, I opened the door towards the engineering path. Throughout my time in college, I would often think about the woman at the shopping center. When my school work got tough, I would think about wanting to say to people, “this is the building I designed” with the same confidence that the woman had. The tough times have been worth it.  It’s been such a joy, and I love what I do every day.

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