Top 3 Reasons to Love being an Engineer & Engineering Entrepreneur

One of the top questions I am asked is how I got into engineering and what I enjoy most about my field. This post seeks to answer those questions.

My background is as an engineer in building structures. Prior to founding Engineers Rising LLC, I worked as a structural building engineer designing large commercial building projects. Now, I work as a consultant, teaching engineers how to be as comfortable with people as they are with their technical strengths. I champion female engineers because that’s who I can help the most, and plan to turn the tide on the 40% of female engineering majors who drop out of engineering or never enter the field at all.

I started the way most of us start anything – by being uncertain of what I wanted to do but willing to take action. In college, I knew I wanted a career somewhere in the STEM fields, and had been encouraged by my scientist parents to go after what interested me (STEM or otherwise). I changed majors twice (biochemistry and computer science were the first two) before finding my career calling almost by accident.

One day during college, I was playing tennis with a friend who happened to be an engineer. He met me on the courts straight from his last class with a miniature building model. I looked at the model, and asked him in which engineering class he “got to do that”. At the time, I didn’t know a major existed where you could combine math, physics, and building design that didn’t require the artistic abilities of architecture. The rest you can say is history – I went into architectural engineering, and specifically structural building design.

Success certainty.png

What is a structural engineer? A structural engineer is someone that designs that part of a building or bridge that holds it up. For an analogy, in your body, this would literally be the bones. You don’t usually see the bones (unless you’ve broken one), but your body could not function without them.

When I think about what I enjoy most about being an engineer, I realize that math (although important) is just a small part of what I do. Math doesn’t even make the top three!

And, interestingly at least for me, the top three things I loved most about designing buildings as a structural building engineer are the exact same things I enjoy most about my journey so far as an entrepreneur.

#1  Impact

When I worked as a structural engineer:

There aren’t many engineering fields where what you build will very likely still be standing after you have left this earth. Structural engineers save lives by designing buildings that stand through earthquakes, wind, snow, and a variety of other load conditions. Imagine how many more lives could be saved (especially due to earthquakes) if we were better at getting our technologies into less-developed countries.

We also know that the design of the places where we live and work have a direct impact on our health. Do you want to live and work in a building with no windows? Or wide-open spaces with a lot of light? Structural engineers working in close contact with their architectural colleagues make that happen. Which brings us to my second favorite thing about being a structural engineer.


A large part of the reason I founded Engineers Rising was to have a greater impact on the world. In my role as a building designer I could directly impact hundreds of people on the projects I worked on, and indirectly thousands who would use the buildings I designed. In my entrepreneurial venture, I can directly impact thousands, and potentially millions of current and future engineers.   


#2  Collaboration

When I worked as a structural engineer:

It takes a very large team to build a complex large-scale building. There is usually a group of people or an institution who “own” the building; different groups of people who will use the building (many of which may have conflicting priorities as to the building’s layout and use); and a whole team of architects and engineers such as civil, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and geotechnical engineers.

In addition to the people needed to design the building, we also need a contractor’s team to physically build it. That team will have cost estimators, superintendents, project managers, laborers, subcontractors, and technology people. And let’s not forget that buildings often need to be financed, and there are contracts and insurance (and lawyers, bankers, etc.) needed for all of the above.

That’s a lot of people who spend years of their time to complete a project. The stereotypical concept of an engineer doing math alone in their cubicle for days on end with little contact with people could not be further from the truth of how this process actually works. The very best days are when you are problem-solving with the team, trying to balance a whole number of competing priorities with the budget and finding the best solution for the project. You will not be successful in this field if you aren’t talking to at least some of the team on a daily basis (and much more than that if you aspire to be a successful project manager). And the best, most successful projects? Those team members become like family to you.


Being an engineering entrepreneur takes collaboration to another whole level. It’s like using the skills I learned in project management times 1000. You are not only managing your current projects for external clients, but also the internal business aspects as well. It’s also reaching out to prospective clients, staying in touch with my own mentors for support, working with other like-minded entrepreneurs, and constantly learning.

#3 Problem Solving

When I worked as a structural engineer:

It may seem obvious that engineers solve problems, but the less obvious nuance (and fun challenge) of problem solving as a structural engineer is figuring out which is the correct problem to solve. What might appear at first to be an easy structural solution might cause a problem to another team member. For example, structural engineers tend to be big fans of adding columns (cue laughter/eye rolls from any architects reading this), but imagine your movie theatre experience if there is a column in the middle of the theatre! What might at first seem to be a no-brainer for the contractor from a construction cost perspective – for example specific cladding materials to be used on a building - could be a deal-breaker for the owner from a long-term maintenance perspective.

Ambiguity is often the name of the game. The curious person is rewarded because you are not simply learning about engineering, but about how a particular building type really functions. Problem-solving as a structural engineer requires a deep understanding of why and how all the parts come together. It requires compromise and many really smart people putting their heads together to come up with an agreeable solution.   


Entrepreneurship is an adventure in problem-solving. Ambiguity is more the name of the game than ever, and you often have to make quick decisions with incomplete information. Asking the right questions and listening attentively to the answers is equally critical. Testing and re-testing learning materials, marketing strategies, advertising, websites,  and more is part of the journey.


Want some inspirational biographies about engineers? Check these out!