When do you first recall wanting to become an engineer?
For a long time, I wanted to be a doctor. I started my undergraduate career at the University of Connecticut with the intention of supplementing my pre-medical courses by majoring in Biomedical Engineering. I went so far as to take the MCAT and secure admission at the UConn School of Medicine. However, by my junior year I realized that the courses that gave me the most enjoyment and offered the greatest challenge were those in the engineering disciplines – in particular, computer science and electrical engineering. I picked up an EE minor and began to look for companies in the tech industry that I might want to work for.
How long have you been at NI and how did you get here?
I started at NI as an intern in the Engineering Leadership Program in the summer of 2013, just before my senior year of college. I had a great summer in Austin, and enjoyed my experiences in the Applications Engineering department as well as the project I completed with product marketing, a demo for the NI Week expo floor. I valued my time at NI so much that I decided to come back full-time after graduation. I spent about a year and a half in the ELP department, supporting our automated test products. I moved into product marketing in 2015 and am currently acting as the Product Manager for TestStand.
What's been your favorite project at NI?
My favorite projects at NI have always been those that involve getting out in front of our customers. I’ve had the opportunity to work with FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) students architecting robot control systems powered by LabVIEW. I’ve traveled to NIDays around the world, presenting technical sessions and delivering hands-on seminars. As a product marketing engineer, a routine part of my job is to conduct customer visits for the products that I own. Nothing matches the enthusiasm that our customers have for the products that we make and the support we provide them.
This year's theme is "Dream Big." Engineers engage their creativity and technical know-how to transform dreams into reality. What's your big dream?
My big dream involves inspiring the imagination and technicality of aspiring engineers. I recently started volunteering at the Thinkery, and have really taken to the mission there. The Thinkery is all about inquiry-based learning – kids are never steered in their play, to allow for the greatest degree of natural creativity and exploration. If one kid participating in an activity thinks they’re building a rocket ship, and another a freight train, both are correct. Your job as the facilitator is not to direct, but to get that child engaged and articulate about why they’re doing: ask them why they approached the activity the way that they did, what about their design makes it a rocket ship, and how they think that rocket ship works. This cultivates the skills necessary for these kids to become excellent problems solvers, and pursue roles in STEM fields with passion.
If a student asked you why they should pursue engineering, what would you say to inspire them?
I don’t think I’d be able to give them just one reason to pursue engineering. There are so many opportunities in engineering, not only in terms of what concept or discipline you can specialize in, but also in terms of what type of role you can take on. As a product manager I get to witness engineering in the form of software and hardware design through my R&D colleagues; I also get to see engineering converge with business, communication, and art through my colleagues in marketing or other strategic roles. Overall, I’d try to convey the continual opportunities for learning and differentiation that are available to those with an engineering degree.
About Engineers Week
Engineers Week - the only event of its kind - is a time to:
Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world
Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers
Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents
This post is a part of a series highlighting engineers from NI and their stories about how and why they became engineers.