23 Jun 2022
AYE3D Celebrates International Women in Engineering Day with Emily
“A woman in a robotics engineering competition stands out; it’s still a rarity. A female co-controller, even more!” explained Emily Nguyen on her recent return to the AYE3D offices after competing in the prestigious University Rover Challenge 2022 (https://urc.marssociety.org/), a robotics competition that challenges teams of future engineers from universities and colleges from all over the world to show their know-how by building a robot able to work on Mars.
The only woman on her team of five representatives from the University of Sherbrooke, she secured a role controlling Zeus, her team’s robot—she was in charge of the robotic arm—a role she had to fight for. In fact, not allowing herself to be intimidated and fighting for what she wants have been constants in Emily’s engineering journey, a journey still atypical for a woman, let alone a woman from an Asian family. Emily had to convince her family that robotics was not a “man’s job.”
A real team player and a positive force at AYE3D, she spoke with us about being a woman in engineering and her passion for technology, and answered our questions.
- AYE3D: I would have thought that in 2022, there would be more women in engineering. Is this not the case?
Emily: “It depends on the type of engineering. In chemical engineering, yes, there are a lot of women. But not in robotics. Our class only has five women out of forty students. The year before only had one. The class after ours has a few more. It’s still marginal, but at least the numbers are going up!”
- AYE3D: Why do you think that is?
Emily: “Robotics is still considered a man’s field. When I was in high school, I saw how girls who showed talent for the field weren’t encouraged like the boys were to pursue it. As a woman, you still have to be stubborn to succeed in this field.”
- AYE3D: How would you say a woman’s perspective is different in robotics?
Emily: “I think what we bring to robotics is different because robotics is already a mix of several other disciplines. So we look at things differently and tackle subjects differently. So on top of being women, we just bring in a new perspective.”
- AYE3D: What would you recommend to girls who are interested in studying robotics?
Emily: “To succeed, both for girls and boys, you need passion and ambition. For girls, you need a good dose of independence and stubbornness (laughs). What I would say, is don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s okay to try it. If robotics is what you want to do, then go for it. And surrounding yourself with other women in the program is also key: for solidarity and to work on group projects together so you’re not the only girl on a team, that’s also important. And I hope that the women of tomorrow, when they start their studies, will have more female professors and managers in their first jobs. It helps to have supervisors who understand what you are going through.”
Thank you Emily and happy International Women in Engineering Day!
Special thanks to photographer Nicholas Calcott for providing us with the third image.