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On Engineering in Crisis: Strategizing and Finding Consistency

Over the next few weeks, we invite you to join us for a short-form blog series on how SWE Members are navigating the world amidst COVID-19. In this third blog, we are pleased to feature Tuyet-Hanh Schnell from South New Jersey.
On Engineering In Crisis: Strategizing And Finding Consistency

Today, we are pleased to feature Tuyet-Hanh Schnell from South New Jersey. These blogs will showcase how different SWE members are engineering their lives during this fluid and ever-changing environment.

Want to be featured? Submit your engineering in crisis story here.

Your Name & Affiliation: Tuyet-Hanh Schnell from South New Jersey

Engineering Discipline: Systems Engineering


How do you handle stress and maintain a work-life balance right now?

My husband and I are now both working from home. My work still requires me to go to the lab sometimes to perform my duties. Technology does help us to connect with our co-workers on a daily basis even though we are now all working remotely. My husband and I discuss each night the plans for the next day. This includes our expected work schedules, homeschooling, and meal plans. By doing this, we have a daily plan for the next day. As things come up, we adjust that plan. It helps to keep the stress level down so that we can support both work and home life.

Do you have any tips for studying or working from home? 

Making sure that you have a place to do your work without interruption and work in the same location every day. It helps to give you a sense of “going to work” even though you are at home. Make sure that you bring home everything that you will need to get your work done. That means that if you need reference documents that are not electronically available, you need to bring it home with you. Make sure that you and your co-workers share contact information so that you can reach each other. If you work a certain schedule normally, continue to work that schedule. It is very easy to fall into the trap of working longer hours because you don’t have to “go home.” Shut off the work computer and don’t look at your work phone when you’re off the clock. Explain to your children that you are at work even though you are not physically leaving. Maybe even have a sign that says “Mom is working” or something like that to remind the other members of your household that you are at work.

How do you maintain community with your fellow SWE members, section, or affiliate?

I read emails from SWE and keep up with LinkedIn and Facebook. I also email section officers with questions or suggestions for virtual activities. I also use FB messenger to communicate with other SWE members that I’m friends with.

Engineers will be part of the critical solution to the global crisis created by COVID19. How are you engineering in crisis today?

As an engineer in the defense industry, we are considered an essential sector so we do not shut down. We also have a lot of work that requires us to be in the lab or use on-site computers and servers. However, some employees are not able to come into work due to caring for elderly parents, needing to homeschool their kids, or limiting exposure due to health issues for themselves or their loved ones. Therefore, creatively thinking out of the box to have meaningful, value-adding assignments for these employees is critical to ensuring that work gets done. By carefully identifying work that can and cannot be done remotely, I’ve been able to provide assignments for people on my team that can be done from home, so that they can maximize their ability to work from home and minimize the need to use PTO.

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