Amanda Conger, P.E.
Mechanical Design Engineer
Engineering Consulting Firm
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
My mother had introduced me to the idea of being an architect, which I thought sounded pretty neat, so when I had an opportunity to job shadow a professional, I selected a female architect. The woman was wonderful, but when I kept peppering her with questions about how the buildings stayed up and who made sure there was room for the air conditioning ducts, she steered me toward architectural engineering. Researching that introduced me to the more general field of engineering and I was hooked. I am forever grateful to that architect for putting me on the right path.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
One of the best parts of my job is that I get to do a little bit of everything so I have worked on projects ranging from tiny, hand held enclosures, to a 20 foot diameter, two story tall helicopter simulator. I’ve worked on military, commercial, and industrial projects. And the most gratifying projects are the ones where you really see it all come together.
Whether that is theoretically (as in the white paper I coauthored on the thermal characteristics of a body worn computer) or empirically (as in the industrial flat bed printer I spent a week camped out in a warehouse doing the bulk of the assembly on), being able to look at a finished product and say “I did that” is powerful stuff.
Role models and heroes:
I am forever indebted to the women who came before me. The ones who opened the doors, ignored the stereotypes, and just kept right on doing what they wanted to do. That takes an amazing amount of strength and self-certainty.
Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t be discouraged because something is “hard”. It’s normal to try and fail. What matters is that you pick yourself back up and say “Well, that didn’t work, maybe this will.” and try again. No one has all the answers, even if it seems like they do.
Also, learn the difference between “good enough” and “perfect”. The difference between a 97% and a 100% may matter in school but it rarely matters in the work force. Take the energy you would put into that last 3% and use it to get started on something else. That same effort can often get you 50% of the way through the next big thing.
Favorite website or app:
Pinterest is my most recent favorite website. I love all the eye candy and it’s chock full of great DIY ideas.
EEBA is my favorite app. It allows you to use digital “envelopes” to manage your money which is perfect for my debit card dependent self.