Name: Stephanie Thompson
Program: Chemical Engineering
University(s) / College(s) Attended: University of Waterloo
Education / Degree(s): Bachelor of Applied Science, Co-op
Current Job Title: Engineering Team Leader
Current Employer: General Motors of Canada
Email: Send Email
Fun Facts About Me
Share one fun fact about yourself: In 2015, I was the Canadian Women’s Haggis Tossing champion.
The most inspiring engineer I know is ....... Because ........ ?: The most inspiring engineer I know is Simone Giertz. Simone is a Swedish inventor, maker and robot enthusiast, and while she is technically a non-engineer, her inspiring YouTube videos on how to make useless robots remind us that there should always be an element of fun in the work we do as engineers.
Why did you choose to study engineering?: When I was in Gr. 11, I was selected by my high school chemistry teacher to participate in an overnight STEM excursion. Near my hometown of Ottawa, there was a research nuclear power facility nearby called Chalk River that allowed high school students to participate in 3-day fieldtrips. Not only was the experience of shadowing nuclear engineers and learning about the technical aspects of the business eye opening for me in high school, I was also given a confidence boost by the teacher who selected me. You don’t always know or see the areas you are strongest at when you are young, and having a mentor/teacher who believed you could be good at something goes a long way. In my case, teachers had the single biggest influence on my ability to see myself as someone who could be successful in a STEM career.
What do you love most about your career?: My career is in a fast paced world that is always changing. While I have long term projects and goals to achieve, there is always an element of surprise in the daily challenges of manufacturing.
My company is also very supportive of community outreach, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to give many years back to high school students to teach them about breaking down barriers and seeing STEM as a potential career for anyone.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in engineering?: When learning new things, its normal to feel uncertain and frustrated. We as a society tend to not offer ways for us to practice this, and we glorify people who naturally excel at areas, rather than those that have a good iterative process of problem solving. Diligence, hard work and seeking out experts in the area will go a long way to having a successful career – you can’t know everything, so build up an area you are an expert in, and seek out other experts to fill in the rest of the gaps.