Friday, June 23, 2017

CST engineers on International Women in Engineering Day 2017

CST is lucky to have incredible engineers working throughout our company. In honor of International Women in Engineering Day, we spoke to some of the women who contribute to CST’s success about what they love about being engineers and how male allies in the field can support gender parity in engineering in the future.

Irina Munteanu, 
Head of market development and strategic projects. 
Ph.D in Electrical Engineering.

Apra Pandey, Senior Application Engineer. Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, specializing in Photonics and Metamaterials.

Tracey Vincent, support application engineer. Ph.D, Material Science.

What is your favorite thing about being an engineer?

Irina: Diversity – I never get bored in my work as an engineer. Engineering is a combination of precision (but not as much as in mathematics), creativity (but somewhat different from an artist’s), and detective work (“which one of the myriad of tiny technical details in my device is to blame that it doesn’t yet work perfectly?”)

The best part about being an engineer is to be able to conceive new ideas, design and implement them to make our lives better.

We are witnessing tremendous technological growth, and an important ingredient of this is curiosity. Being curious about how things work, why they work, can they work in a better way, how can a certain design be improved, etc. is what helps us progress.

One of the quickest ways to see if an idea would work is by creating a virtual prototype of the design; or in other words, creating a simulation model that represents how the design would work. I enjoy being able to simulate the design ideas and suggest whether an idea would work or if there is something that can be done to improve the design. This leads to not only a reduction of production cost, but also a faster design cycle.

 Engineering is being paid to solve puzzles and I love solving puzzles. I love the interdisciplinary nature of the work I do.

The theme of INWED this year is “men as allies”, what is a way that men can support women working as engineers or getting degrees in an engineering field?

Irina: I find it difficult to give a general answer to this question, but I can give a few examples from my life.

I was lucky to have a father who often asked me to help him when doing small repairs at home, so I knew even as a little girl how to bang in a nail, change a bulb, or what different types of pliers are good for.

My uncle convinced me that studying engineering is not in contradiction with following my literary and liberal-arts interests: “with a safe job and a good salary in your pocket”, he said, “what prevents you from learning foreign languages, write books, or paint?”

Later on, I learned that some male professors or colleagues tend to think of women in engineering in extreme ways – either “this much is still not enough” (and for them, it’s never enough), or exactly the opposite “in your case, this little will suffice”. I am extremely grateful to those several male professors, colleagues, mentors, who asked of me exactly the same as from my male colleagues, not more, but also not less.

I think there are quite a few ways men can be allies. By being more supportive at the domestic front, by fostering a respectful environment and creating more opportunities for women to take up more engineering roles; are a few ways in which men can support women.

Tracey: If you’re a dad and an engineer then build a rocket with your daughter, encourage her to do math and show her how math is the language we use to understand and analyze the world around us. When you talk to your daughter or son, try to use “he” and “she” interchangeably to describe engineers and scientists. As a boss - call on the opinion (especially in meetings) of your female employees or at least have turns – research shows women are constantly interrupted/talked over; give her the time to be heard. If she has good ideas or did good work then laud her publically if possible. Believe she can do it and give her tasks that stretch her. Women wait to do things when they feel they have full competence; men take risks and challenges and use them as opportunities for growth – this is because society is more forgiving of rookie mistakes with men. I would like more men to see and understand this bias.

Are there any publications, workshops, webinars or other work of yours you'd like to share with readers of the CST blog?

Irina: The article that might be of most interest for readers of CST blog is probably a paper I co-authored on Time Domain methods called “It’s About Time”.

Apra: There is an upcoming presentation at IEEE-APS in San Diego on July 10th. The paper is titled, “Accurate and Efficient Simulation of Bioelectromagnetic Models“

Tracey: I will be participating in a New Features 2017 workshop in Framingham, MA (Boston office) on the 13th July. I will also be participating in the “online training series” over the summer geared to new users and college students.

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