Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Maria Dole Q&A

November 13, 2014

Maria Dole, IUPUI Mechanical Engineering student

Maria Dole, IUPUI Mechanical Engineering student

1) Why did you decide to attend IUPUI?
The first time I visited IUPUI I was nine years old and I declared that I would go to college there one day.  Granted, it was the first university I had ever visited, but when I finally did visit other colleges, nothing really seemed to compare.  Indianapolis gave the impression of an exciting place to stake my roots for the next four years compared to my rural background, I knew I would be receiving a top-notch education, and I had many connections on campus already.  My three older siblings all studied in the school of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, so over the past 12+ years, the place has definitely began to feel like “home” to me.

2) How did you become interested in Mechanical Engineering?
My entire life I have been curious about anything that moved.  I was always helping my dad with a new building project or handing him tools to help repair an old tractor, so you could say that my mind has constantly been in “mechanic” mode.  I became interested in engineering at a young age, and with all that I have been exposed to, mechanical was a great fit.  Fortunately, I have multiple family members who are all Mechanical Engineers, so I had helpful resources nearby to ask questions when selecting my major.

3) What activities were you a part of in high school that helped prepare you for college?
I am the type of person who wants to try in a hand in everything that is available to me.  Because of this, I participated in basically every club and organization available during high school.  Taking part in AP and Honors courses definitely helped with the high school to college workload transition, as well as taking a Project Lead the Way Engineering course.  Some of the organizations I was involved in during high school such as school news and radio gave me the opportunity to gain public speaking skills that were beneficial when attending events such as career fairs on campus.

4) What was the biggest difference for you between high school and college?
For me, starting at IUPUI meant moving out of my parents’ house.  While they were only a phone call away if I needed anything, I learned to embrace independence and become more confident in my own decisions.   I think this has helped me develop a “take-charge” attitude in all areas of my life, whether that is taking on a new project at work or learning to manage limited time for a variety of commitments and priorities. I have surprised myself in discovering all that I am capable of.

5) How has your involvement outside of the classroom impacted your experience at IUPUI?
Joining the Society of Women Engineers was (and still is) one of the best decisions I have made since attending IUPUI.  I have met many driven, influential young women in this organization who truly understand what it is like to be a female in engineering as well as professional members working in the industry.  SWE gives me the opportunity to reach out to younger girls and answer any questions they have about the ins and outs of engineering and is a great outlet to put past leadership experience to use.

6) Describe a project, internship, co-op, or research experience that has been influential to your career development.
During the end of my freshman year, I was granted a summer internship with a company and have been blessed to have been asked to continue working with them year-round for the past 11/2+.  Being able to partake in such a long-term position gives me the opportunity to take on more in-depth projects as well as learn many basic hands-on items such as soldering, sand-blasting, etc.  My internship has also given me the ability to give presentations in front of some of the leaders in my company, gaining me invaluable contacts that will be useful after graduation.  From all of this, I have realized that internships can give you a small sneak peak of what life after graduation could be like, all while discovering how topics in the classroom apply in the workplace.

7) What advice or encouragement would you give to other females considering a degree in engineering?
My advice is to never let anyone underestimate your abilities.  It’s common to encounter people who will try to convince you that you are making the wrong decision in choosing an engineering path because it is so male dominated, but with hard work and dedication, females can make just as good, if not better, engineers.  At the same time, we need to realize that this is not a boys vs. girls competition and that working together can create some of the most innovative outcomes.