What does the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag mean to you?
There is no good way to explain to someone how it feels to be degraded because people do not think that you could be an engineer, whether it is because of your gender, race, height, intelligence, etc. I've felt it. I think a lot of people have felt it. And it's not a great feeling. This movement breaks that traditional idea of what it is to be an engineer. It shows the world that engineers can come from any background. I am persevering as an engineer. I am an engineer.
What are your career goals?
I love space so I want to have a career in the aerospace industry building spacecraft or rockets that will take spacecraft farther than we could ever imagine. I will start my career at United Launch Alliance after graduation and I hope to make meaningful contributions to rocketry and the way we think about launch!
What are your hobbies?
Watching football (CU and the Denver Broncos) every weekend, hiking around the beautiful state of Colorado, movie marathons, baking, traveling around the world, and hanging out with near and dear family and friends!
What do you enjoy most about engineering?
I love the challenge and excitement that is involved with engineering. There is no instruction manual for being an engineer. We have to solve problems that directly impact the world and all of mankind. And each problem is unique and different. It's an amazing sense of purpose that guides me and pushes me through all of my struggles.
What is your favorite engineering experience?
The early morning homework/study sessions and late night brainstorming/work sessions with a great group of people that I can honestly say have carried me through this college experience. It is easy to say that having a good support system is the only way you can make it through engineering without losing faith in yourself. The people I have met, befriended, and taken with me along this incredible journey are the reason that engineering is, even at its worst, bearable. Collaboration has been an amazing experience; seeing how others think and solve real-world problems is inspiring and that has been my favorite engineering experience so far.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
It's a rare occurrence for one to not experience failure at least once in college. I felt that after my first Calculus III midterm. It happened because I underestimated the exam, and did not put enough effort into studying. I was the stereotypical "smarty" from high school who thought I could handle college exams no problem. I was wrong. I failed the exam. It made me question my major, my involvement in a lot of things, and what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up persevering in engineering and it was one of the best choices of my life. Engineering is tough. It's challenging and most of the times, I struggle to keep my head above water. But every day I come into class and I learn something. My professor challenges me. And I keep making it through. It's become this amazing talent of balancing everything but trying to make the most out of it all. I am trying to make the most of it all even with all of the struggles and challenges and you can too.
Samantha Palma, Class of 2019, Mountain Vista High School Graduate, Mechanical Engineering