Carmen Graves was introduced to the world of engineering through her high school FIRST Robotics program. FIRST Robotics is an international robotics competition focused on inspiring young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded professional capabilities. Joining the team her senior year, Carmen fell in love with the design process. “I love digging deep into a design problem and figuring out the solution through multiple iterations and prototypes. The final design is the ultimate reward,” she said.
When it came time to apply to college, Carmen chose the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) because she wanted to pursue a career in engineering and learn more about the field. The first course she took was multidisciplinary, combining computer science and mechanical engineering. One of the assignments involved designing an amphibious vehicle. The hands-on approach, design testing and iterations led Carmen to pursue a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Beyond College: After graduating MIT, Carmen became a hardware engineer at Voxel8, a multi-material electronics 3d printing startup based out of Greentown Labs. Carmen is responsible for all of the hardware design for the printer including the XYZ stage and the assembly of the components. Her role integrates industrial design and hardware engineering.
Role models: Carmen’s role model is her mom. “She is the smartest woman I know: she immigrated to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic, went to college at 16, graduated in two years and then went on to optometry school where she was the only Hispanic woman in her class,” she said. “By age 23, she had her own practice. She then went on to medical school and pursued her medical degree”
Why are there so few women engineers? “One of the reasons why women don’t pursue engineering is because they do not see other women in their engineering classes or other women pursuing engineering. Part of this stems from the toys that we can choose from as kids. Girls are often sold pink dolls while boys get to play with blue cars and building blocks. When I was growing up, I got lucky because I grew up with a brother, so we just shared our toys.”
Advice for women in the field: “Don’t get intimidated if you don’t get something off the first try. Keep at it and figure it out. Take the time to figure out a solution to a problem even if the person next to you gets to the solution faster. If you give up right away, you will hinder your own performance.”
Have someone in mind? You can nominate the next recipient for the SOLIDWORKS Women in Engineering Program, honoring the outstanding achievements that women are accomplishing day to day in the engineering community. Find out more information or get started today!