Name: Cat Hay
Program: Systems Engineering
University(s) / College(s) Attended: University of Waterloo
Current Job Title: BASc in Systems Design Engineering, MASc in Systems Design Engineering
Current Employer: BlackBerry
Fun Facts About Me
Share one fun fact about yourself: Engineering students have a tradition of dying themselves purple. I was dyed head-to-toe a total of 7 times, including once on a co-op term where I had to show up at work that way for almost three weeks before the dye wore off!
The most inspiring engineer I know is ....... Because ........ ?: There are tons of engineers out there doing inspiring work. Two that come to mind are George Roter and Parker Mitchell, who founded Engineers Without Borders. I think it's so neat to see people leveraging their skillset to give back to society.
Why did you choose to study engineering?: I was good at math and science in high school. I liked solving problems and understanding how things work. Systems Design engineering seemed like a good fit for me because it's all about optimizing the way things work together as a system. There are so many different applications for this type of thinking.
What are your best memories of your engineering education?: I was really involved in UW's Engineering Society. I got to meet a lot of really interesting people, learn how different academic committees function, and have a lot of fun at student events.
How do you apply your engineering degree to your current career?: I work in the field of user experience design - conducting research to understand users' wants and needs, and using that knowledge to design products that help people do things more efficiently and in a more enjoyable way. In school I took courses to learn about human systems, user-centered design, interface design, cognitive ergonomics, psychology, and statistics. I also learned a lot through design workshops and my fourth year design project.
What do you love most about your career?: I love the fast pace of technology and getting to work on a product that everybody knows about and uses on a regular basis. It's exciting to see somebody using a product you worked on and be able to say, hey, I helped make that!
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in engineering?: An engineering education provides a really solid background for understanding and solving complex problems. There are so many different career paths where these skills are valuable. I would leverage a coop program (or internships, research assistants, volunteering) to get exposure to the different areas you're interested in. That's what helps you figure out what you love (or hate) and gets your foot in the door.