Steffanie Kuehn FrandsenElectrical Engineering, Class of 2009
"Let yourself do hard things - but also let yourself make mistakes."
My senior year of high school I was trying to decide what to study in college - I hadn't planned on engineering, but I loved math and physics and I knew I wanted a challenge. Electrical engineering seemed exciting and complex and before I knew it I was nose deep in books in the Clyde building.
It was hard, and there were plenty of late nights spent working on projects and homework, but studying engineering gave me so many opportunities. I was able to intern at Intel for several summers, and even worked on the next generation of planetary rovers at NASA. More importantly, studying engineering taught me that I am capable of doing things I never thought possible.
After graduation, I was privileged to marry my husband (a fellow engineering student) and start work at Raytheon in the Simulations department. I worked there for a year, had many great experiences, and then had our first child. I am currently expecting our second child and am a full-time stay-at-home mom. I love my life and I am so grateful for the time I get to spend with my daughter every day. I'll never get this time with her back, and I don't want to waste a minute of watching her grow.
When I was in college, I thought nothing could be harder than completing my engineering degree. I poured my heart and soul into those classes! As it turns out, life continues on after graduation, and there are still hard things to be done. Harder things than school, believe it or not. Studying engineering taught me how to buckle down and figure out how to get things done and work things out, even if it takes some sleepless nights to get it right.
If I could go back and give my student self some advice, it would be to not worry so much about having everything I ever wanted in life all at once. Our lives are made up of times and seasons with different opportunities and experiences associated with each. I used to get very stressed about wanting a career and a family and I didn't understand how to make it all happen and get the most out of everything all at once. Once I realized that I had a lifetime of opportunities ahead of me, I was able to relax and enjoy where I am at now. I enjoyed the time I spent working as an engineer, and right now I am enjoying being a full time mom. I wouldn't give up the experiences I am having at home for anything! One day my kids will all be in school and I will suddenly find myself with hours of new free time. That career path will still be there waiting for me when I get there, and I'll have years to enjoy working as an engineer again. Don't let anyone ever tell you that once you leave your engineering career you can't ever go back to it. I personally know many amazing women with amazing careers that spent their time as a full-time mom when their children were young. You can have everything you want out of life, just give yourself a lifetime to accomplish it :)