Why did you choose engineering at CU Boulder?
To me, the amount of resources CU engineering has was really inspiring. We have partnerships and relationships with companies in almost any industry, which empowers CU students to use their engineering skills in a way that is tailored to their passions. Beyond that, it lets us explore a variety of ways that engineering degrees can be applied.
I remember learning about the #iLookLikeAnEngineer campaign at one of my orientation days, and even though I didn't have a role model at CU yet, the #iLookLikeAnEngineer concept made me feel welcomed. I felt more able to become an engineer that I was proud to be at CU!
What does the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag mean to you?
I think the most important part of #iLookLikeAnEngineer is to disrupt assumptions people make based on societal norms. We're socialized in a way that results in problematic stereotypes, and that's personified the term "engineer" to be a pretty exclusive category. #iLookLikeAnEngineer opens up the door to showcase really spectacular individuals that may otherwise not be immediately accepted into the field of engineering.
Do you have any career, research or creative goals?
As I progress through my TAM degree, I'm getting more interested in creative/generative coding, and physical computing. At some point in my career I'd love to be a creative technologist and further explore how human interactions in the physical world can interact with code. I think technology should be easy to use and it should exist for a reason, and refining peoples' experiences with technology is really important to me.
But primarily, my career goal is to be a high school teacher. Adult role models are integral to young people feeling like they deserve to pursue higher education. I love working with high school students, and I feel like I can make the biggest difference in an educational setting. Often times people don't pursue math / science because the education system has labelled them as "bad students", when the problem really lies in opportunities to learn. And as long as I can be one more passionate teacher, I should be creating a classroom climate that lets everybody explore their place in the STEM world.
What are three things that make you unique?
- Similar to engineering, the outdoors industry is personified in a very exclusive way. Also similar to engineering, I'm super passionate about the outdoors industry. I've been telemark skiing and mountain biking for over 10 years now, and my personal growth in those sports is really special to me. And it's unbelievably fun!!
- I'm very introverted, but I do improv comedy. Performing in front of a crowd every week can seem intimidating at first, but improv has developed my creative thinking and communication skills in many ways off-stage as well as on!
- I lead a lab section for Object (an intro to physical computing class) and am learning how to be in a "teacher" position with my peers. This is the first semester Object is set up this way, so us 3 Lab Assistants are part of a learning process. At first this concept was a little uncomfortable to me, because we're in the same stage of our education, but I quickly saw it as a super exciting opportunity to veer from a traditional education setting. It allows us to interact in a more casual and comfortable way, instead of perhaps being intimidated/tempted to disengage in a big lecture hall. And it's taught me to develop and practice my own leadership style.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
"Let us linger here a while in the foolishness of things."
What are your hobbies?
I love to ski, climb, mountain bike, and paint. I am a co-captain for Left Right Tim improv comedy team here at CU. Also, I am the TAM student leader for ImagineCU, a new group in engineering to make the college a more inclusive place for everybody and providing support for women in the college.
What do you enjoy most about engineering and the TAM community?
I appreciate how interconnected the TAM community is. If I have a question about something that I'm not very comfortable with, I can ask another community member for advice. The amount of workshops and collaborations in TAM make me so excited to learn about things I've never heard about before. And more importantly, I feel encouraged to ask these questions. Because that creates a climate that lets people grow, rather than feeling a pressure to already be an expert in everything related to engineering.
What is your favorite engineering experience?
Last semester I took Object, which is an intro to physical computing class. One phrase the instructor used was "for implementing your project concept, the biggest limitation is your imagination." To me, this was so refreshing to hear because I think a lot of times brainstorming engineering projects can become very stiff and get stuck in following the norm. I was allowed to first think creatively and then explore for myself the technology with which I would make my project.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If I were to say something to prospective engineering students: If you've felt like societal expectations discourage you from pursuing engineering, you're valid in that. But, your unique perspective has something valuable to give to engineering that maybe nobody has voiced yet. And there are incredibly brave people in engineering that you can lean on for advice and inspiration as you pursue your career. At CU, there's access to so much intersectionality between engineering and other industries that you'll find a place to use your skills and do work that you truly care about.
Elsa Roeber, Class of 2020, Technology, Arts & Media