Friday, March 18, 2016

#ILookLikeAnEngineer: Aichen Sun

Meet Aichen (Claire). Outside of painting in her free time and serving as secretary for UCSD’s HKN - one of only two females on board - she applies her electrical engineering knowledge to the medical device field.

Name: Aichen Sun
Major: Electrical Engineering
Graduation Date: June 2017

Why did you choose engineering at UC San Diego?
Before I came to UC San Diego, I wasn't completely sure about what major I wanted, but I knew what subjects I was better at and enjoyed more - math and science. I didn't grew up in a family of engineers. Actually,I was always been told that a girl like me should work on improving my communication and writing skills.

Even though I enjoyed math and science, I was confused about their real-life applications. I was first exposed to engineering during high school and was fascinated by how engineers can utilize knowledge of math and science to design products that benefit people’s lives.

I chose UC San Diego for several reasons. First of all, it has a very good engineering program. More importantly, it contains a large body of engineering students that includes many female engineering students just like me. It shows how much the school values diversity.

What are your career goals?
As an Asian and a female engineering student, I want to work at a company that greatly values diversity. I hope that I can either work as an engineer on a team or be in a position where I can have contact with the end-users of the company's products. Currently, my specific interests lie at the interface of electrical engineering and medical devices.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
"Fake it ‘till you become it" and "Live life to the fullest."

What are three things that make you your own individual?
First, I think my major. As a female student, it took courage for me to pursue the electrical engineering field. Although engineering can be challenging, I believe that it has made me a more logical, precise and persistent person.

Second, I like to explore drawing and painting during my free time. They provide me with another way to define my character other than engineering.

Third, I went to school early, so I grew up with almost all older classmates. I think it's a unique experience, and it has made my mentality more mature than many other people my age.

What does this campaign mean to you?
During my schooling in China, I felt like people were less open to girls who are interested in the engineering field. From what I remember, most of the time when a girl expressed her interest of pursuing a career in engineering, people would comment that it's hard for girls to compete with guys in engineering, or that the workload is too much for a girl to handle. On the contrary, when a boy expressed his interest in pursuing an engineering degree, people complimented him and said something like "oh you are going to make good money".

I did feel a bit frustrated growing up around people who often questioned my abilities and potential, but after I came to UC San Diego, I can tell that people here are a lot more encouraging and open to female engineer students. I think it's very important that young girls be encouraged to pursue engineering, and that these girls be told not to be afraid of the stereotypes.

Regarding diversity, I did not truly realize its importance until I took a course on managing diverse teams this summer. The professor who taught the course shared some really interesting experiences she’d had. I was amazed by her stories about teams succeeding through the use of the inherent characteristics of each team member, such as race and gender. Every element has its own potential and should be greatly valued.

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