Published: Sept. 13, 2018

Name: Jenny Ramirez
Hometown: Ecuador
Advisor: Shideh Dashti

My Path to Engineering

Jenny RamirezI was born and raised in Ecuador, and since that time STEM careers started to sound interesting to me, I have always been concerned about their crucial and practical implications on society. During my senior year at college I was recruited by a professor to work on his doctoral research work on a geotechnical earthquake engineering related topic. As a consequence, I became aware that a better understanding of the soil underneath a structure could minimize failures caused by earthquakes and potentially save people’s lives. Further, I found out that as a geotechnical earthquake engineer I could design recommendations for earthquake-resilient structures which could have a positive impact on people in Ecuador and other seismically active countries. Thus, I have been working on research projects in this field since then.

My experiences as an undergraduate research assistant led me to a dream: I wanted to be a globally-trained geotechnical engineer, one who was able to solve engineering-related problems with colleagues in different countries, facing technical challenges. However, I knew early in my career that I needed to go to graduate school to accomplish my dream. Therefore, I moved to Mexico City to get my master’s degree in geotechnical engineering. After some years of industry experience in Ecuador, I moved to Boulder to pursue a doctoral degree in the same field.

Why CU Boulder? 

My advisor, Shideh Dashti, played a big role in my decision to come to CU Boulder. Her research interests and her practical research philosophy aligned with both my academic and professional focus. In 2014 she recruited me to work on a National Science Foundation project, and I have also been very fortunate to have Abbie Liel, a structural engineer, as a co-advisor. It has been four years since I came to CU Boulder, and I am still excited about my research work, working with friends around the globe.

I am currently working on a dissertation, which is focused on computational modeling of three-dimensional nonlinear soil-foundation-structure systems to understand the performance of potentially inelastic structures on softened (liquefiable) deposits and the effectiveness of remediation techniques. During my PhD studies, I have also been given the opportunity to do some reconnaissance and research work after the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake in Japan and the 2016 Muisne earthquake in Ecuador, respectively. Sooner than later, I realized that my dream was becoming a reality.

Besides its proximity to a terrific mountain landscape, its attentive people are what makes CU Boulder delightful for me. Few months are probably enough to feel the contagious positive energy from those around you and become a Colorado Buffalo by heart. I am also very thankful that CU Boulder has offered me plenty of opportunities to participate in multicultural mentoring and leadership programs. These experiences have shaped my strengths, boosted some dormant skills, allowed me to meet new friends, and last but not least, trained me to become a well-rounded engineer for the world.