Welcome to the new Engineering Emily Interview Series! In this series, I will feature interviews with inspiring women on the blog so you can read about many engineering stories besides my own. We all choose science and engineering fields for different reasons and have had different journeys along the way, and this series will show the many faces, names, paths and careers of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

I am honored to announce our first interviewee: Paula Demartini

PaulaD

EE: How and when did you decide to become an engineer?

PD: In high school – Junior year. My grandfather is an engineer, MIT grad and I always loved math and science.

EE: What was your university experience like as an engineering student? What GPA did you have at graduation?

PD: It was tough. I studied Mechanical Engineering. In 2000 – there weren’t too many women. I am grateful I made the right decision going to a small school where I was able to get the help from the teachers and other students. I got through engineering school by going to office hours, study groups and lab preps. I graduated with a 3.0 which I am proud of. I also enjoyed college – spent time volunteering, joined a sorority and traveled. I am grateful for that well rounded experience.

EE: Did you do any internships in engineering?

PD: I did one every summer; after Freshman year – Maxim Integrated Products, after Sophomore year – Lockhead Martin; after Junior year – GE

EE: How did you get your first job?

PD: I got my first job through the on campus interview process.

EE: What industry do you work in?

PD: Engineering and Scientific Consulting – Exponent, Inc.

EE: What has been your career path?

PD: I worked for Kiewit out of college for ten years and then moved into the consulting world last year.

EE: Have you had to move for work? Have you travelled for work, and if so where?

PD: Working for Kiewit, I spent time in Alberta, Canada working in the Alberta Oil Sands.

EE: What has been your best experience as an engineer?

PD: Completing our final crown pour on the Devils Slide Tunnel has been my proudest moment to date as an engineer. I worked with a great team and we spent LONG hours planning, preparing and executing the architectural concrete.

EE: What has been your most challenging experience as an engineer?

PD: I had some tough days as an engineering student and in the work field. No specific date comes to mind – but the challenges usually occurred around my expectations of wanting to “get it all done” and I needed to slow down, analyze the situation and ask for help if I didn’t understand a current problem.

EE: How do you balance career and home life?

PD: I have my immediate family near me. I was married but am longer married. Engineering and career wasn’t the cause. But I have learned over the years that balance is a constant adjustment. Life is always changing – ebbs and flows and similar to the question above (it need to slow down, analyze the situation and ask for help if I can’t solve it all on my own).  I am also so grateful for the mentors I have had and have. I have always found men and women in my field that I have looked to for advice on career, family and finances. 

EE: What advice do you have for someone interested in engineering/working moms?

PD: Engineering is one of the best degrees for a woman. Times are changing and encouraging and supportive of women. I have never regretted my decision and am so grateful for the independence and freedom it has provided for me.

You absolutely do not have to be a genius to go into the engineering field. It takes hard work and commitment  – and those life skills you learn in college as a student will serve you for the rest of your life.

EE: Any other information or stories you’d like to share?

PD: I am also a certified yoga teacher and I have found so much balance in my life through teaching and the experience of yoga. I wish I was more involved in yoga during college.

I also recently decided to pursue my PE. It has been over ten years since I graduated and I am a little nervous…But I am an engineer and I am not afraid of a challenge

Thanks again to Paula for sharing her story with us on the blog today! She’s had a successful career built on hard work starting with internships in college at well-known and respected companies, landing a long-term job after college and now moving to the consulting world. Paula discussed having mentors who provided advice on more than just work. That is why a mentor is so valuable – they can help you both professionally and personally.

Paula also pursues outside passions like yoga and I agree with her that staying active in activities outside of work that you love helps keep your life more balanced and fulfilling. Good luck in getting your PE Paula, you’re an inspiration to us and we’re all rooting for you. We know you can achieve anything you set your mind to!

If you have any questions for me or Paula, please comment below. And if you or someone you know would be interested in being interviewed for a feature in the Engineering Emily Interview Series, please comment below or email me at emily@engineeringemily.com.

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