SWE Outreach – Next Steps for SWENexters

SWE Outreach members are asked when they became interested in engineering and when did they realize they wanted to be engineers.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

SWENext logo

As a kid, were you interested in science and engineering?

When did you realize that you really wanted to become an engineer?

Did anybody influence your decision to do so?

Here are Next Steps for SWENexters as recommended by fellow SWE Outreach Members:

Earlene Jones, Society of Women EngineersEARLENE JONES

Why? Why? Why? As a child, these were the questions I always asked my teachers or any adult around at the time. I was always fascinated (still am) with the idea of how things are created and the journey it took to get there. As a young person, many thought my path would end in me becoming a psychologist because I always had and asked good questions (again me wanting to know the why) and also I was a great listener. Privately, I was not so sure. As I got older and developed a love for computers, my path became more apparent and I chose to study computer science focusing on software development. Today a recent graduate in software engineering, I find joy in knowing that I helped to make life easier by developing an application that can be used in everyday life. And that is what engineering is all about – developing solutions to everyday problems. A software developer’s day is always new and challenging and I never get bored. “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Marc Anthony


As a kid, I was interested in all aspects of school, but my strengths were in math. I had a tough choice to make in High School: do I want to be a teacher or an engineer? Through school, I had great admiration and respect for many of my teachers and wanted to give back to my community to shape the next generation. Today, I can say that I made the right choice. I am able to give back to the girls interested in fields of engineering because I am able to share my story here on this blog and participate in area schools’ career fairs and outreach programs to tell them about what I do and how my interest in building blocks (creating and design things) and making puzzles (putting pieces together) can lead to a career in transportation engineering, a subset of civil or structural engineering, focused on roads, railroads, and bridges.


I always loved my Math classes. When I was in elementary school, my grandfather gave me a book about “practical math and science”. It described how to estimate the height of a tree, using what I would later know as “trigonometry” and your direction of travel using the sun as reference, among many other examples. Later on, in high school, this was reinforced by a teacher who taught both my Calculus and Physics classes; he kept forgetting which one was which so that, halfway through a period, we’d realize: “Hey! This is supposed to be Physics class… and the stuff on the board *looks* like Physics but Dr. G. thinks we’re in Calculus!” Both experiences reinforced the link between Math and “actual real world stuff.” From then on, I decided that becoming an Engineer would be the best way to stay connected to Math while doing something practical. Before I even graduated from H.S., I decided to go into Aerospace Engineering, spurred by a love for a comic book series about a group of fighter pilots. I quickly realized that I would never be a fighter pilot but I could probably find a way to work on cool, flying things!


As a kid I was always interested in computers and building things so looking back I believe I’ve wanted to be an engineer all my life even though I may not have had a specific name for it in mind. I’ve always been fascinated by the construction of things, from the smallest computer component to the layout of an entire city but I got truly interested when I started working for my dad’s electrical company full-time. Observing the stages a project goes through and realizing how much responsibility an engineer has in guaranteeing the safety, functionality, and usability of something was truly amazing to me. I originally started out to obtain my electrical engineering degree but once I wrote my first C++ program I fell in love with computer hardware/ software and ultimately changed my major to Computer Systems Engineering. Because of the experiences I gained working with him, I would have to say that my dad ultimately influenced my decision to become an engineer, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities that he gave me to realize my passion.


Scroll to Top