“Women need to see other women in male-dominated industries. I want to be an inspiration to women to achieve in uncomfortable spaces.”
Tiffany is a Rutgers School of Engineering senior from Clinton, New Jersey, who is studying chemical engineering. Here she shares what matters most to her as a student and her plans for the future.
What drew you to engineering?
When I attended a summer Governor’s School in the Sciences program for rising high school seniors, I realized I loved STEM. Since I wanted to apply science to make something, I was drawn to engineering.
Why did you choose Rutgers?
First, I really wanted a school with diversity and Rutgers offered diversity. I wanted a big school where you get more opportunities for leadership and professional development. Second, SoE offered students a lot of resources for learning assistance and tutoring. That attracted me because my high school hadn’t had engineering. The last thing was that Rutgers is a really big school with 40,000 students – but SoE is small with just 4,000 students. So, I knew I could enjoy a small close community within a big school.
Why did you decide to major in chemical engineering?
When I came to Rutgers, I had no idea what to major in. I thought I knew what chemical and biochemical engineering was, but I was completely wrong.
I’m one of those people who has to do something. I was attracted to a major with a lot of options and opportunities in a lot of industries so I could diversify myself. It’s a lot of math, and I really like math, and there is chemistry, physics, and a little bio. The major is a good fit for me.
What is it like being a woman engineering student?
My first year, I saw a lot more males in my general courses. A support system like the Society of Women Engineers helped me as these women can relate to your struggles. My major is about 40% women and 60% men, so I never felt as outnumbered as I might have in some of the other majors.
Are you involved in other groups?
In addition to currently serving as president of the Society of Women Engineers, I’m also involved with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. I’m also busy as an ambassador for Rutgers and the School of Engineering.
What about internships?
My first internship was with Procter & Gamble in their Cincinnati headquarters, and was involved with Charmin and paper towels. I enjoyed the consumer goods industry, but that work wasn’t as technical as I like. I did have the opportunity to visit a plant and see them install equipment and I realized I wanted to be a part of something like that.
I later interned with the Phillips 66 oil refinery in NJ. I could go outside and on field, see equipment and interact with it every day. This led to my looking for a job in this field.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I’ll be working as a process engineer at Chevron’s oil refinery north of San Francisco in Richmond, California. I chose Chevron because its culture is one of the best for women in engineering.
It works out for me personally, too. My sister lives in San Francisco, and it’s closer to my family that has moved to Taiwan.
Do you have any advice for new students?
I’d just emphasize all the resources and support SoE offers students, especially in terms of tutoring and learning help. I’d never taken an engineering class, so this helped and supported me a lot. It’s good for students who aren’t that confident about going into engineering to know they have those resources. It’s also important because how you feel academically can affect your mental health.
What do you do for fun?
I like to go to the gym for Body Pump – a weight-lifting class I’ve been going to for four years with a lot of my friends. I’m part of a knitting club and we knit scarves and blankets and donate them to local multi-service community organization, Elijah’s Promise.
I’m a big Yelper and like trying new foods and new places around New Brunswick and Edison area. I especially like Korean and Mexican food.
How do you hope to give back to future SoE students?
I want to stay active with the Society of Women Engineers. Even though I’ll be in California, I can still stay involved and even volunteer my time as a mentor working remotely. I’m going into a pretty male dominated industry and want to inspire and support others.