"And so you see, with these modifications, I was able to increase the cooling efficiency of this unit by 20%"
I went to the IEEE Pulsed Power Conference & Symposium on Fusion Engineering last summer. It was so interesting, but mostly over my head, and while there I was invited to speak on an informal panel. It was about what it is like to be a woman in Engineering. This was the first time I had ever been on a panel, and some of the organizers at the conference asked me what I was going to wear. To which I responded by looking down at my lab polo and khakis and saying, “This?” They informed me that I would probably want to wear something nicer. When I showed up to the panel wearing a nice top and skirt, and saw that all the other women were nicely dressed, I was very grateful for their advice. I had just figured showing up to a “Women in Engineering” panel dressed like I do for work would be fine.
One of the appeals of engineering for me is how relaxed everyone generally is about clothing. I don’t just mean wearing jeans to work. I mean no hidden land mines in the fashion department. Making small mistakes in your wardrobe is looked over. Small mistakes in your calculations? That is a problem. Shirt doesn’t match your skin tone? Whatever. As long as you don’t look like a slob, you are fine. The few times there happens to be a specific dress code they are usually very clear about it. Doing a job interview? Black jacket, white shirt, and black pants. Heck, when we went to a conference my company gave us all specific polos to wear. Not that I don’t enjoy dressing up, it makes me happy when I find a dress that makes me feel gorgeous. I just don’t want to be judged by my inability to follow obfuscated fashion rules. But I guess that is how my friends feel when I tell them, “A computer will always do exactly what you tell it to do.” (This, I am just now realizing, my dad did not make up on his own, something I had assumed for my entire childhood). Perhaps next time I am having a conversation with someone and they don’t know what I consider to be a basic scientific fact, I should just remind myself that to them, perhaps the term “potential energy” makes as much sense to them as the term dress casual does to me.
My name is Caroline Storm Westenhover. I am a Senior Electrical Engineering student at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am the third of seven children. I enjoy collecting ideas and theories and most enjoy when they come together to present a bigger picture as a whole. Perhaps that is why I like physics and engineering. My biggest dream is to become an astronaut.
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