News / 8.17.15

#ILookLikeAnEngineer – Carla Espinoza

Learn how a ‘Mathlete’ turned into a Mechanical Engineer

Our next Epstein #ILookLikeAnEngineer spotlight star is mechanical design engineer Carla Espinoza. Carla joined Epstein in 2014 and during her two years with Epstein she has worked on a wide variety of projects including meat processing plants, hotels, hospitals and corporate offices. Continue reading to learn why Carla became an engineer, if she had any women mentors and what she thinks are the biggest challenges to becoming a women engineer.

Why did you want to become an engineer?

I wanted to be a doctor growing up but in junior year of high school I started participating in math and physics contests. I discovered that I enjoyed finding creative solutions to different problems and I was always curious about how things worked. I qualified for the Iberoamerican Physics Olympiad in 2004 and represented Ecuador in the Iberoamerican Math Olympiad in 2003 and International Math Olympiad in 2004. I was accepted in the Coastal Polytechnic School (ESPOL) in my hometown the winter before starting my senior year of High School. The following year I started the engineering program as "Undecided" but I soon fell in love with the versatility and possibilities of Mechanical Engineering.

Did you have any women mentors?

I did not have female engineer mentors, there were usually between one and four females per year studying mechanical engineering in both my undergrad and graduate programs. I looked up to my female professors in both University of New Orleans and University of Illinois at Chicago and I always received good advice. Professionally I’ve received support and encouragement from male supervisors in my internship and full-time jobs. I think that the best guidance I received about work ethics and perseverance came from my family were there are great examples of strong independent women.

What are the toughest obstacles to overcome being a woman engineer?

I believe that young engineers in general (male and female) are constantly questioned and tested as part of their learning process, but I think that as a female you need to be more prepared and sure of yourself to gain the same trust as your male counterparts.