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Chemical Engineering Student Spotlight: Vidhya

Check out the interview below with Chemical Engineering student Vidhya to learn more about her experiences and how you can #BeThatEngineer!
Chemical Engineering Student Spotlight: Vidhya - Chemical Engineering

Meet Vidhya, a senior chemical engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh. During her time at college, she has completed internships, co-ops and undergraduate research. Read on to learn more about her studies in chemical engineering!

A Day in the life of a Chemical Engineer: Marina Venezia -
Vidhya Thiyagarajan, Chemical Engineering Student

What were your favorite subjects growing up in middle and high school? And why?

My favorite subject growing up was definitely science. I found myself curious about observations in my daily life and found that science explained most of them!

Who was your biggest influence in your middle/high school years? Why?

I have two biggest influences. First, my father who is a Chemist. He nurtured and furthered my interest in science as I was growing up by encouraging me to ask questions. My older sister is also one of my biggest influences. After realizing my interest in science, she first introduced me to SWENext in 9th grade, and I started a SWENext Club to continue to explore my interests by completing hands on challenges, talking to local companies and engineers and even hosting outreach events. From these experiences, I learned how valuable engineers are to society and the fun they get to have on a daily basis to solve problems, and I knew that I wanted to study engineering!

Why did you choose to study chemical engineering in college?

In high school, I decided to study chemical engineering because I was interested in chemistry, math and engineering. However, I only finalized my decision in my freshman year of college.

During our first year of engineering at Pitt, all students attend a weekly seminar where we learn about the different engineering disciplines we can study and attend open houses for each discipline. Through this experience where I talked to different faculty and students, I learned that chemical engineers can have such versatile career paths and are needed in every sector of industry. In addition to my interests in engineering, realizing that a degree in chemical engineering can provide me such a flexible career solidified my decision to study chemical engineering.

What has been your favorite class so far? Why?

My favorite class has been Thermodynamics. I love learning about why things work the way they do which is exactly what Thermodynamics taught me! I found the course to be challenging and rewarding and equipped me for future courses where I applied those principles in classes such as Reactor Design and Kinetics.

What do you hope to do with your degree when you graduate?

I would like to work in a research and development role after I graduate. However, as I mentioned, one of my favorite aspects of getting a chemical engineering degree is the flexibility and numerous options I have for my career path – so, I am very interested in exploring other paths throughout my career!

What has been the hardest obstacle to overcome in college as a female engineer? How did you overcome the challenge?

Some of my obstacles came when I completed my first co-op and realized that there were very few women engineers working in the same department as me. I did not face this obstacle in my classes at Pitt since we have a very diverse student population within the engineering school. However, sharing my experiences and learning from the experiences of others within my community at PittSWE inspired me and empowered me to use my diverse background to bring forth new and positive contributions to my projects and the team! I realize that having diverse perspectives on a team can be invaluable to society and I am glad that I have my community within PittSWE to support me!

What advice do you have for kids today who want to get into engineering?

Be curious and be flexible! My curiosity is what inspired me to study engineering and what continues to motivate me throughout my career as I work to now apply what I learned! I also think flexibility is important so that we can take advantage of all opportunities. It’s great to have a plan and a goal to work towards but being flexible will make sure we take advantage of all open doors which may result in something much more rewarding!


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