Women In Engineering Gather at FIU to Celebrate ‘Spirit’ of Possibility

(From left to right) Armana Sabiha Huq, Sendi Brewster, Elina Aguilar, Dr. Ranu Jung, and Hannah Saenz posing for a picture before the panel begins.

Camila Pereira/Contributing Writer

In a field of study generally dominated by men, two successful women in engineering shared stories of their studies to encourage women engineers

FIU’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and FIU’s Student Programming Council (SPC) hosted the Women In Engineering event at the Engineering Center on January 29th, where women studying engineering at FIU were given the opportunity to learn from other women who were once in their shoes through a panel.

The panel consisted of the moderator, Sendi Brewster, who is the assistant director at the Women’s Center at FIU, and the two guest speakers, Dr. Ranu Jung and Armana Sabiha Huq, where they discussed what it is like to be women engineers and the obstacles they faced in their studies.

Dr. Ranu Jung is the Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and holds the Wallace H. Coulter Eminent Scholars Chair in Biomedical Engineering at FIU. Sabiha Huq is a Doctoral Dissertation Year Fellow in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at FIU and an Assistant Professor of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

When they talked about their experiences when majoring in engineering, they often ended up mentioning how isolating it was since the majority of the students in their classes and in the engineering programs were men.

Despite being a predominantly male-run career, these women spoke about how they found mentorship throughout their education and support from others such as professors, their wives, and the few women studying engineering with them.

“And to me, some of the guys who were senior to me, taught me many of the things I know today,” said Jung, who often confided in the men in her classes for help and advice in her studies and life.

What many people tend to develop in a career path that is generally isolating and overwhelming is the imposter syndrome.

“It is when voices that might be inside your head are telling you that you’re not good enough for something that you actually are already qualified to do,” said Brewster of imposter syndrome.

This feeling is something that women in engineering are all too familiar with because of the isolation and the lack of support they receive from people around them, creating this sense of doubt and insecurity in pursuing their careers. 

For Sabiha Huq, her confidence is what motivated her to keep going throughout her career.

“I always thought that anything is possible, that was my spirit. That’s why all the doubts from other people went away,” said Sabiha Huq.

According to the Huffpost, what women in engineering need is to be more confident and not fear something that has yet to happen, that is how they will succeed.

This is precisely why the event was held, to provide women encouragement and to see that they are not alone in their journey of majoring in different areas of engineering.

The Women In Engineering event organized by SPC Engineering co-directors Elina Aguilar and Hannah Saenz, as well as their committee team, included a variety of activities for attendees to enjoy along with the panel.

There were wooden boards to write motivational quotes and phrases, face masks to relax and de-stress, girl power buttons and pins, SPC spiral notebooks, and different kinds of food for them to eat while listening to the panel.

For these women who may feel isolated or need motivation and support in their lives as they push to achieve their goals of becoming engineers in the future, having events like these will allow them to feel more comfortable and proud of themselves.

“By being the first of its kind hosted by SPC, we feel that it was a huge success, and, hopefully, it won’t be the last one,” said Aguilar.