June 23, 2023
With digital transformation impacting nearly every industry around the world, from automotive and aerospace to consumer electronics and industrial equipment, it’s an exciting time for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) enthusiasts. Occupations in STEM are projected to grow almost two times faster than other occupations in the United States, increasing 10.8% from 2021-2031. Currently, more than 36 million people in the U.S. hold positions that require STEM knowledge and expertise.
Still, despite its popularity, demographic statistics in STEM-related fields indicate an imbalance of women representation. Women represent only 34% of the U.S. STEM workforce, and women in engineering specifically represent just 15%. In the European Union (EU), nearly 7 million female scientists and engineers were reported in 2021, accounting for 41% of EU total employment in science and engineering.
If you’re interested in engineering, there is a wide selection of disciplines to pursue, such as mechanical, electrical, aerospace, computer, biomedical engineering, and many more. Plus, for those who have multiple interests, most positions offer exposure to other disciplines depending on the industry. For example, both mechanical engineers and designers may work at an aerospace company and experience a bit of both worlds.
That’s the case for Mariana Golden and Kayla Mennillo. Golden pursued her studies in mechanical engineering and currently works as a mechanical designer at Duxion Motors, Inc., an advanced motor design and manufacturing company that develops electric propulsion systems for aircraft and marine vessels. Similarly, Mennillo studied mathematics and mechanical engineering, and works as a senior engineer, aerothermal fluids, at Pratt & Whitney, a world leader in the design, manufacture, and service of aircraft engines.
For others like Alba Marcelin, university study may align even more closely with a chosen career path. Marcelin pursued aerospace engineering and is about to begin her career in the Engineering Edison Leadership Rotational program at GE Aerospace as a systems engineer. But a rich background in any engineering discipline can provide the foundation to pursue another discipline. A great example of this is Christina Peristeri, who studied mechanical engineering and completed an internship at Ansys, where today she works at the company as an application engineer specializing in computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
Regardless of the discipline, industry, or journey, the common denominator for all of these women boils down to two things: an interest in engineering and a drive to succeed in the field. In fact, not every aspiring engineer starts out as a STEM expert.
“If you have an interest in any STEM field, you do not have to be good at math and science to pursue a career in STEM,” says Mennillo. “If you enjoy problem solving and getting creative, the technical information can be learned in the classroom and on the job.”
Another common thread among these women is simulation — Ansys simulation, more specifically. All four women used Ansys tools during their time at university — whether as an undergraduate or graduate student — or on a student team. Ansys is committed to increasing exposure to STEM and industry-leading simulation tools through the Ansys Academic Program, which provides universities with affordable software for use in the classroom and in research. Further support is extended to students for at-home learning through free student software downloads. Additionally, Ansys partners with student teams participating in competitions by providing access to free research software, learning resources, and support.
“My experience using Ansys on a student team is part of what got me my current job and was indispensable in my transition to industry,” says Golden. “Having familiarity with the different Ansys products and their capabilities and interfaces made the onboarding process much easier.”
As a member of the Paradigm Hyperloop student team, Golden learned how to set up 3D CFD simulations in Ansys Fluent and Ansys CFX. The goal was to design a pressurized vehicle known as a pod, which could reduce the energy needed to propel it by levitating a few millimeters off the ground.
Peristeri’s introduction to Ansys came through a student team, too. While competing on a Formula Student racing team, she used Fluent to inform the car’s aerodynamic design.
“Through this partnership with Ansys, me and many of my teammates learned to use simulation tools at a very advanced and professional level,” says Peristeri. “This made us stand apart from other students and helped us take exciting roles in many big companies straight out of university.”
Outside of competitions, many students such as Marcelin and Mennillo gain exposure to Ansys software as part of their standard engineering curriculum. Currently, the Ansys Academic Program reaches more than 3,100 universities across 88 countries.
“The opportunity to use Ansys simulation in various classes and projects has not only been great exposure, but has allowed for a fuller understanding of textual applications,” says Marcelin. “Having this skill is definitely a plus, as I look forward to entering opportunities within engine and component testing.”
Echoing this sentiment, Mennillo also acquired an in-depth understanding of simulation through university coursework, which helps her succeed in her current role.
“Obtaining the Ansys simulation skillset has been extremely beneficial to my career growth,” she says, “as it has provided me with another skill to offer — not only a technical skill of being able to set up the program to obtain the results I desire, but also the ability to comprehend what the program is generating and communicate those results to key stakeholders.”