It’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, so Meet Katherine Bicer, a Materials Scientist Who Keeps Helicopters Flying

2013EweekPosterIt’s National Engineering week, and today is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. If you don’t have an engineer lying around the house somewhere (some of us do), how about learning from one of Engineer Your Life’s many female role models? Meet Katherine Bicer, a Materials Science engineer at General Electric Aviation. Her actual title is Life Management Engineer because her job (as shown in this video) is to determine “how long a part can survive in an engine.” Bicer’s goal is to assure that the aircraft engine parts GE manufactures can last, and last safely, for as long as possible in the many conditions that helicopters (her specialty) find themselves in, be they desert wars, medical evacuations, or hurricane rescues.

Bicer’s career shows that there isn’t always a straight line between what you are interested in during school and when you end up doing as a career. She loved chemistry in high school, so she got her college degree in chemistry, but then found she was interested in archaeology and decided she “wanted to look at ways you could use chemistry to understand archeological artifacts.” That pursuit ultimately led her to materials science, which is the study of the properties of solid materials and how those properties are determined by the material’s composition and structure – a blend of science and engineering that matches her interests perfectly.

Other parts of your life might influence what you are want to do or study. Bicer’s work with helicopters is especially important to her because when she was young her brother needed to be transported to the hospital in a helicopter. She didn’t start out wanting to work on helicopter engineering, but when the opportunity presented itself, she understood the importance of that kind of work and pursued it. Has something that happened in your life changed the way you think about the things you want to study or work toward?

If you know a girl who might be interested in materials, consider introducing her to Penny Noyce’s Desperate Case of the Diamond Chip, which features a set of fascinating materials (semiconductors) and a female inventor.

And mark you calendar for the 2013 Global Marathon on March 6-8. The theme is “Women in Engineering and Technology: Inspire. Inform. Change the World”. It’s a free, worldwide online forum for women in engineering and technology to meet virtually and share their stories of personal, educational, and professional challenges and successes. For the whole story, including schedule and registration information, click here.

Special thanks to Engineer Your Life, a great online guide to engineering for high school girls.

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