Meet Fiona Redmond, an electrical engineer with Hughes Network Systems. Find out how she got there, a project she’s working on, and how you can #BeThatEngineer!
Growing up I always had a wide range of interests. I loved history and reading, but I also loved science. At my grade school, I participated in the Hands-On Science club after school where we’d learn more about science and try different experiments. When I was in high school I had an excellent physics teacher who suggested that I consider majoring in engineering when I went to college. I really enjoyed my physics class in high school, and my dad is an electrical engineer, so I decided to take that path.
I received my B.S in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. It was an interesting shift for me – I had attended an all-girls’ high school and suddenly I was often the only female in my classes.
I really enjoyed my experience at college. I learned a lot, made great friends, and was involved in a variety of different clubs. One program I participated in was the FLEXUS Women in Engineering Living Learning program. This is a two year program that connects women engineering students through the same classes and shared living spaces. It was a great way to build a support system and find friends to study with. We also took a seminar course where we learned about resume building, practiced job interviews, and learned other skills we would need in our future as women engineers.
After graduating from college, I got a job at Hughes Network Systems, a satellite based internet provider. I never expected to get into this field, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I work as a satellite and capacity engineer monitoring our satellites and managing the bandwidth we allocate across the country. Every day is different – some days I’m writing code to analyze data we collect from the satellites; other days I’m planning out where we will allocate bandwidth and planning possible changes to improve our customer experience. I even got to participate in the launch of our latest satellite, Jupiter 2. As the satellite was brought into orbit we analyzed the data to make sure all the components were working as expected before bringing our service up on it.
Although more women are stepping into the field of engineering, this is still very much a male-dominated field. I’ll sometimes receive emails that are addressed to “gentlemen”. Sometimes people will make other comments to me, but I try not to be bothered by them. I know that I can do the work, and by continuing to prove myself, I gain the respect of those around me. Some women at our company have actually started a group where the women can meet to discuss challenges they’ve encountered and ways to overcome them. It’s a great way to help other succeed in the field.
My advice is to discover what areas of STEM really interest you. Take a variety of classes to help with this. You may never know what opportunities are out there in the field of engineering, so explore as many as you can. You can easily find something that fits your interests.