Women in engineering profile: Maria Schneider
International Women in Engineering Day, celebrated on June 23, 2018, celebrates the achievements of females in various engineering industries. Here’s a Q&A with Maria Schneider.
To honor International Women in Engineering Day, Consulting-Specifying Engineer asked select people to answer questions about their background and mentors and their career path. Here’s a Q&A with one of them.
Name: Maria Schneider, PE
Position: Energy Engineer, Schneider Electric, Cincinnati, Ohio
Education: Mechanical Engineering, University of Cincinnati
CSE: What or who was your biggest motivation in becoming an engineer?
Schneider: I love challenges so becoming an engineer provided me the foundational skillset to solve difficult problems. I was also influenced by the effect that engineers have on others—keeping people safe, protecting the environment, and improving comfort and work spaces conditions. At the end of the day, I enjoy seeing the tangible results of my work.
CSE: What advice would you give someone in high school about becoming an engineer? What resources or references would you suggest they look at?
Schneider: Engineering at its core is about solving problems. Ask a question about your surroundings and work through the problem-solving skills to find an answer. Whether you are successful or not, the lessons learned working through the problem with be invaluable. There are many STEM related projects available online to get you started. In addition, I would highly suggest learning a programming language through developing an app or creating a website. Programming develops strong logical thinking skills and sharpens problem solving abilities through debugging errors. Computer science experience will be extremely desirable in the future and will give you an advantage over your peers.
CSE: While you were in college, what helped shape your decision to specialize in your area of expertise?
Schneider: I was fortunate to incorporate six quarters of co-op work experience while completing my degree. On the job training exposed me to many aspects of the mechanical engineering field and was invaluable in identifying a technical focus for my senior year. I found my passion during my last rotation at an architecture and engineering firm where I learned drafting in AutoCAD while designing and sizing HVAC and plumbing systems.
CSE: Do you have advice for young women just starting in the engineering field?
Schneider: Use this time in your career to ask lots of questions and find out where your passions and strengths lie. Choose a mentor or a champion to get as much exposure to the different technical and business aspects of your chosen field as possible. Be responsible for your own personal and professional development. Set goals for yourself, write them down, and review them often.
CSE: What trends or challenges do you foresee in your field? What advice would you give to others to help adapt to these types of changes?
Schneider: The availability of data is quickly expanding through building automation systems (BAS) and advanced metering. Data in of itself is not useful if it cannot be understood and comprehended in a timely manner. Individuals with the skills needed to connect, gather, analyze, and present large data sets into digestible graphs and dashboards will be highly sought after. Data scientists, those who combine expertise from math and statistics, programming and domain specific knowledge, make sense of data to support informed business making decisions.
CSE: Are there professional development tips you can offer other female engineers? What helped lead to your success? This might include public speaking courses, working with a mentor, or some other advice.
Schneider: Never stop learning. We are so fortunate to live in an age where knowledge is literally at our fingertips. Online resources, such as massive open online courses (MOOCs), offer classes on technical topics from industry experts. Take advantage of all the resources available through your local public library, both digital and in-print. Stay on top of industry trends through publications, technical memberships and local events. Do something every day that challenges you.
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