Vanessa (E.I.T.) is a Transportation Engineer at a Private Firm in San Diego, California. She is a first-generation Filipino-American. Vanessa initially attended Community College, then later transferred to San Diego State University where she graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.
Outside of work, she is heavily involved in her local professional organization American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She continually participates in events that help promote girls to pursue engineering and hopes to inspire others to do the same via Instagram (@itsvnessa).
What does the average day in your field for you look like?
An average day for me is working on my computer designing and drafting plans in AutoCAD civil3D. Some days I will be on other programs to do calculations or create reports. Other days when my projects are in construction, then I am coordinating with contractors and creating exhibits to respond to construction changes.
Who inspires you in STEM?
All the amazing people that I have met through STEM Instagrams have continued to inspire me every day.
How did you decide to become a civil/transportation engineer?
I didn’t know that I wanted to be an engineer until my last year in high school. A family friend knew that I enjoyed math and science and suggested that I look into engineering. I choose civil engineering because I love helping people and being able to make a difference in society through the projects I work on.
You advocate for mental health and it’s such an important topic in STEM. What’s your advice for other engineers in prioritizing their mental health?
Mental health is very important! I have been dealing with mental health through my own struggles and my family’s struggle for years. I used to be silent and ashamed of it, but talking about our struggles is what makes us stronger. For aspiring engineers, I suggest learning when to rest and getting help whether it is reaching out to friends, going to therapy, or having an anxiety coach. When you feel discouraged, remember “Why” you are pursuing engineering and this will help you succeed in the long run as an engineer.
What’s something about your field that you wish others knew about?
I wish more people knew about how important our society’s infrastructure relies on Civil Engineers. Many of us take for granted the clean water we have easy access to, the storm drain/ sewer/ water systems underground that are vital to everyday use, yet nobody sees how much work goes into designing these systems. We will always need civil engineers to continue to design, innovate, and build the society that we live in today.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
When I struggled and failed my first class in engineering school, this is what kept me going. Understanding that it is okay to fail, just don’t give up your “why”.
Follow Vanessa on Instagram for an inside look at civil engineering!