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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Dress Like an Engineer Caroline Storm Westenhover


"And so you see, with these modifications, I was able to increase the cooling efficiency of this unit by 20%"


I went to the IEEE Pulsed Power Conference & Symposium on Fusion Engineering last summer. It was so interesting, but mostly over my head, and while there I was invited to speak on an informal panel. It was about what it is like to be a woman in Engineering. This was the first time I had ever been on a panel, and some of the organizers at the conference asked me what I was going to wear. To which I responded by looking down at my lab polo and khakis and saying, “This?” They informed me that I would probably want to wear something nicer. When I showed up to the panel wearing a nice top and skirt, and saw that all the other women were nicely dressed, I was very grateful for their advice. I had just figured showing up to a “Women in Engineering” panel dressed like I do for work would be fine.


One of the appeals of engineering for me is how relaxed everyone generally is about clothing. I don’t just mean wearing jeans to work. I mean no hidden land mines in the fashion department. Making small mistakes in your wardrobe is looked over. Small mistakes in your calculations? That is a problem. Shirt doesn’t match your skin tone? Whatever. As long as you don’t look like a slob, you are fine. The few times there happens to be a specific dress code they are usually very clear about it. Doing a job interview? Black jacket, white shirt, and black pants. Heck, when we went to a conference my company gave us all specific polos to wear. Not that I don’t enjoy dressing up, it makes me happy when I find a dress that makes me feel gorgeous. I just don’t want to be judged by my inability to follow obfuscated fashion rules. But I guess that is how my friends feel when I tell them, “A computer will always do exactly what you tell it to do.” (This, I am just now realizing, my dad did not make up on his own, something I had assumed for my entire childhood). Perhaps next time I am having a conversation with someone and they don’t know what I consider to be a basic scientific fact, I should just remind myself that to them, perhaps the term “potential energy makes as much sense to them as the term dress casual does to me.

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My name is Caroline Storm Westenhover. I am a Senior Electrical Engineering student at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am the third of seven children. I enjoy collecting ideas and theories and most enjoy when they come together to present a bigger picture as a whole. Perhaps that is why I like physics and engineering.  My biggest dream is to become an astronaut.

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