International Women’s Day is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

To mark International Women’s Day 2020 (Sunday, March 8th), we’ve asked 4 of our female engineers to tell us about their careers and what they’ve learned during their time within the industry.


Lisa Lassi | Senior Engineer, Environmental Engineering

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I assist with project development, permitting, design, bidding, and construction administration for water and wastewater utility projects.

 

What inspired you to go into this field?

Math was my favorite subject in high school.

 

How long have you worked in this role? Why have you continued to work in this industry?

33 years as an engineer, 40 years with CSI. I like who I work with and what I do, but also, I have appreciated the work hour flexibility I’ve had during my career.  This allowed me to have a career and enjoy time with our daughters while they were young.

 

Were there any women that have influenced your decision to pursue a career in STEM?

No women that I can think of, but several men:  my drafting instructor in vocational school (which I attended after high school before I started college part-time) and also Jim Chastain, who was my first boss here at CSI. There were no women professors and very few female students in the college of engineering when I started at USF Tampa in 1984.

 

What do you enjoy most about your career?

Problem-solving and working as a team with my co-workers.  Also, it is nice to feel appreciated by our clients when we help them solve their problems.

 

What would you say to a young female interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

Don’t ever feel intimidated if you are outnumbered by males in your job/career.  I’ve attended and/or run many meetings when I was the only female in a group of 10 to 15 people.


Aurora Schaefer | Senior Engineer, Environmental Engineering

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I prepare design reports, drawings, and specifications for the construction of water and wastewater facilities.

 

What inspired you to go into this field?

I started as a draftsman over 40 years ago for a firm that did environmental engineering. As I started to understand more about what I was drawing, I decided to go back to school to learn how to do engineering design.

 

How long have you worked in this role? Why have you continued to work in this industry?

I have been an environmental engineer for over 27 years.  I enjoy putting projects together no matter how big or small.  It is important to maintain public utility systems because we all depend on them.

 

Were there any women that have influenced your decision to pursue a career in STEM?

No one that influenced me, but I have met many women in the profession that have made me glad that this is my chosen profession.  We are all unique.

 

What do you enjoy most about your career?

In a nutshell: Helping people.

 

What would you say to a young female interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

I was an art major when I was in high school and did not realize that I was capable of complicated science and mathematics.  What you have to do is open your mind and stay positive.


Jennifer Schroyer | Engineer IV, Civil Engineering

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I prepare civil engineering plans for our clients for permitting with local and state authorities.

 

What inspired you to go into this field?

I had a grandfather and great-grandfather that had careers in engineering in one field or another.  When my own father discovered my advanced skills in math, he suggested that I follow the same path.  I’m happy I did because I enjoy the rigors of problem-solving and presenting the outcomes.

 

How long have you worked in this role?

I worked part-time in college for 3 years.  I’ve worked full-time for 7 years.

 

Were there any women that have influenced your decision to pursue a career in STEM?

Unfortunately, not.

 

What do you enjoy most about your career?

Working with my peers with the same goals in mind and bouncing ideas off each other.  I enjoy finding solutions to problems that are not readily apparent.

 

What would you say to a young female interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

Way to go!  You’re breaking the mold and entering a world that will stimulate your mind and take you places that will make you strive to go further.


Meg Sheeran | Data Engineer, IT Department

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

It really varies by week! I can either be working on a Visual Basic code, creating an app within PowerApps, or writing SQL queries. Those are the main ones. I can also be helping IT issues such as working within Active Directory or even building a PC.

 

What inspired you to go into this field?

I always found computers super interesting. There are so many sides to technology, the hardware, programming, how it thinks, what it can do, and so on. I think I was just interested in learning all of that (then found out half of it is a headache and stuck to only the fun bits).

 

How long have you worked in this role?

Almost 3 years now! I really like that I can always find something new to learn, especially because I do such a wide variety of tasks. Every time I’m on a new project, I feel like I learn something new, whether it’s a more efficient way to write code or a whole new software program.

 

Were there any women that have influenced your decision to pursue a career in STEM?

Luckily, I had a professor in college who really shooed away any discouragement I got from classmates. She made me feel less abnormal about being a woman in STEM despite the fact women were only 16% of the population at my school. She was a lot of people’s favorite professor and she taught her classes very well and knowing people respected women inspired me to speak up more in class.  She was the one who put me in contact with Chastain-Skillman!

 

What do you enjoy most about your career?

I mentioned it a bit before I really enjoy that there’s so much to learn. There are hundreds of programming languages and while I can’t learn them all, I feel like I’m always able to learn something new with all the resources given to me.

 

What would you say to a young female interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

Be kind to other girls in STEM! They’re going through the same thing and it’s great to make friends.