Local female students learn about engineering
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
For years, engineering was a man’s career, but in the last decade, women have become increasingly more involved in the career field.
On Tuesday, Covington County Schools Career Coach Beth Dean invited two local female engineers to speak to a small group of junior girls at the board of education.
Sarah Sightler, an engineer at CDG Engineers, and Courtney Bowers, an engineer at PowerSouth, spoke to the group.
Both are graduates of Auburn.
“The great thing about engineering is that you can live locally or get as far away as possible,” Sightler said.
Sightler said that civil engineers work with infrastructure such as roads, sewer, sidewalks and CDG specializes in landfills.
“It’s a critical part of everyone’s day-to-day life,” she said.
She handles landfill projects at CDG, she said, including the Coffee County landfill.
One thing Sightler said is neat about being in civil engineering is that you get to design projects and use them when they are complete. An example she gave was the renovation of River Falls Street a few years ago.
Sightler said she gets to get out of the office and conduct site visits frequently.
In her nine years as an engineer, Sightler said she’s been treated with respect, and has only come in contact with one contractor who she felt was trying to take advantage of her.
“As women engineers, we don’t want to be catered to we just want our plans and designs treated equally.”
Bowers, who designs transmission lines and poles for PowerSouth, also discussed her job.
“We design every power pole from scratch,” she said. “We determine how many holes are in the pole and how far apart they are from one another and how much sag the lines have. There’s a lot of detail.”
Bowers said that a lot of people think that you have to be really smart to be an engineer, but that’s simply not the case.
“Set small goals,” she said. “Get through one semester at a time.”
Both Bowers and Sightler said they enjoyed not doing the same tasks every day.
Bowers said she enjoyed the problem solving tasks each day.
Bowers encouraged those who were interested in studying engineering or any other job choice to seek out job opportunities while in college to gain more knowledge and make themselves more marketable as employees.
Bowers said she learned the AutoCAD program, while interning at PowerSouth, a class that would have cost her another semester at Auburn had she signed up for the class.
Dean asked the women to talk about having engineering careers and a family.
“Engineering seems to be flexible,” Sightler said. “With technology, it’s possible to work from home.”
Balancing a career versus family is something that a lot of women struggle with.
“It’s always something to think of,” Sightler said. “Once you’ve gotten a degree, most women feel like they can’t not work. That’s something no one ever talked to me about. We can do whatever we want; we just can’t do everything 100 percent.”
Dean said this is the third year they’ve held the women in engineering luncheon.
“It’s informative for female students,” she said.