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FIU celebrates its Panthers on International Women in Engineering Day | FIU News




A common stereotype in society says that women are better at “soft skills” like communication and empathy than men; therefore, they are more suitable for non-engineering professions.

Darlene Fernandez ’06 is a woman who is throwing that stereotype in her head.

In March, Fernandez was appointed executive director of the Miami-Dade Highway Authority. She is using her communication skills along with her civil engineering experience to meet the needs of travelers in Miami-Dade while leading an interdisciplinary team of engineers.

“I believe women ‘s ability to communicate and interact effectively combined with a strong technical background can take them very far,” says Fernandez. “We just need to build the confidence and self-esteem of young women first so that they know they can do the job.”

Fernandez says programs that introduce young people to engineering, like those at FIU Engineers on wheelsare vital to bringing more women into the profession.

“A lot of young women say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to be in the office all day.’ “Is there anything else women engineers can do?” Says Fernandez. “If you tell them what female engineers who are 10 to 15 years out of school do, then it becomes easier for them to understand how practical this profession can be.”

Darlene Fernandez ’06

Naomi Lowe is a CEC student who interacted with engineering at a young age. She was brought into the profession by a program at her high school. Lowe went on with it and is now a mechanical engineering senior and a driver for Panther Motorsports.

“For me, I like how engineering is a way to apply and create your own thoughts,” Lowe says.

This early experience is now leading to a promising career. In August, Lowe will conduct data on motor emissions as an intern for FEV America North, Inc.

“Improving things motivates me,” Lowe says. “Our pollution problem and the greenhouse gas problem are things I want to work on.”

“If the opportunity is there, it means it is there to take advantage. If you are scared, it means it is worth taking advantage of.”




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