Maricela Paramo is a freshman at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln studying civil engineering. She was born in Grand Island, Nebraska but grew up in Michoacàn, Mexico until she was 8. Moving to the United States was not an easy transition for her, but it was definitely worth it. It opened up so many opportunities for her to explore and grow as a person. Now as a student intern for Click2Science Maricela’s goal is to encourage people to pursue STEM majors.
When I was five my goal was to help others by becoming a doctor. However, when I reached 8 I would ask my dad, who works in construction, what projects he was working on. Often he would drive me to the structures and I quickly became fascinated by construction. I would stare at the complex structure as he tried to explain the different parts, how they connected, and the different materials they used. At home, I would “design” these building, roads, and bridges and then I would put them to the test by driving toy cars around them. Some structures failed, others succeeded, but never the less I always kept “remodeling”. As time went by and I got older, I stopped creating those structures, but my fascination of infrastructure stuck with me.
Now, fast forward to my sophomore year in high school. I was still interested in being a doctor, yet when taking career path surveys in school I would always get civil engineering and architecture as careers that fit my skills and interests. As I spoke to my teachers for advice, they all seemed to think that engineering was the right path for me. I knew that civil engineering would be a path I would love as it involves all the things I enjoy: helping others, calculus, physics, and design. However, one thing was holding me back. Being a Mexican woman in a field that is dominated by white men, I was fearful that I would feel excluded. Yet, I still decided to take that big leap and now as a college student, I am happy that I did. As a freshman at UNL, I am passionate in my major and I have never felt excluded, either by professors or employers. Instead, they are happy to see that the engineering field is growing in diversity. Therefore, my advice is to choose a major that you’re passionate about and everything else will fall into place. Here are five myths about engineering majors that I’ve learned in my first semester at UNL:
Engineering fields keep growing with diversity as more women are deciding to enter STEM fields. Different ethnicities are also present in engineering and the numbers also keep growing.
As engineering majors, people have the misconception that we follow strict rules and guidelines that do not allow us to be creative. This could not be farther from the truth as engineers need to be creative in order to solve complex problems.
Not all engineers are experts in math and science, most of us cannot solve elaborate equations in our head or know everything about quantum mechanics. We are in no way perfect and have 4.0 GPAs. We often seek help in order to understand a concept and yes, most of us have failed a test in our lifetime.
Being engineering majors, people assume that we are antisocial and spend all day studying. It is true that engineering requires more studying than some other majors, but in no way does that mean we do not go out or hang out with others. As engineers, we make close connections, study in groups, and, despite what many believe, we always manage to go out with friends and spend time with our families.
Communication has become a very important skill in engineering fields. Engineers have to work with other engineers to get projects done. Therefore, engineering majors spend a lot of time doing group projects and learning successful communication skills.