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SWEet Wisdom: How Did You Choose Your Engineering Discipline?

This month we asked a few of our professional SWE members to share how they figured out what kind of engineer they wanted to be.
Sweet Wisdom: How Did You Choose Your Engineering Discipline?

As you explore future career options, some of you may consider becoming engineers. But with dozens of different types of engineering, the career potential in this field is nearly limitless. To learn more about how to choose between the different types of engineering, we asked a few of our professional SWE members to share how they figured out what kind of engineer they wanted to be.

How Did You Choose Your Engineering Discipline?

Kristen DeakKristen Deak, Computer Engineer

M.S. in Computer Engineering, Lehigh University 

Systems Engineer, Raytheon Company

Since middle school, I’ve always enjoyed math and it was easier for me compared to other subjects in school.  The first time I realized that I wanted to be a computer engineer was during my elementary school computer class where I was asked by my computer teacher to teach her and the class on how to do advanced animations in PowerPoint after presenting an assignment in class.  I got involved in computer clubs in high school and was influenced by my dad and teachers to pursue a degree in computers when I was leaning more towards mathematics at first, which I received a minor in during college.  Having positive influences at home and school and having teachers encourage me to pursue my strengths guided me in deciding to become an engineer.

Rachel BlaydesRachel Blaydes, Materials Science and Engineering

B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, University of Florida 

Senior Undergraduate Student, University of Florida

I always loved chemistry in high school, and as I started looking at colleges people were asking me what I was going to major in. I started saying chemical engineering since I knew I wanted to be an engineer and I wanted to have an answer when people asked me. Once I started college and learned more about engineering majors, I realized that materials science & engineering used more chemistry than chemical engineering. I now work on changing the composition and microstructure of materials in order to optimize their properties for the given application and I am in love with what I do!

Shandra BatesShandra Bates, Mechanical Engineering

M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah

Science and Engineering Career Field Administrator, Department of the Air Force

Choosing my degree was a process of elimination. I looked at the coursework required for each type of engineering and tried to research typical jobs in each engineering area. I arrived at mechanical engineering, which I still consider being a very broad category of engineering. I thought (rightfully so) that it would provide me some opportunity to specialize, without closing any doors. Mechanical engineering appeared to be the type of engineering that was the easiest for me to understand. I am a very visual person, thinking in spatial terms, so I appreciated the hands-on nature of mechanical engineering. Reflecting now, I do think that I should have explored other types of engineering more and felt better about stretching beyond what I really considered to be my natural skills.

Do you have a question for our women engineers at SWE? We’d love to hear from you! Send your questions to We’ll answer you directly, or your question may become a future SWEet Wisdom column!

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