WHY ENGINEERING?: Lizzie Ramos first discovered her love for mechanics, electricity and magnetism in her high school physics class. From then on, she says, there was no doubt in her mind that engineering was her career path of choice.
COMPETING OFFERS: Ramos turned down offers to attend Penn State, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Cornell to attend Penn. The deciding factor? Penn’s numerous language courses and the big city setting—a far cry from her small hometown in the Poconos. In her four years here, Ramos has continued to study German, taken three semesters of Spanish and just started her second semester of Sign Language.
SEEING THE WORLD: Because engineering students must follow a challenging incremental curriculum, many never get the chance to study abroad. Ramos, in her junior year, was one of a handful of engineering students who did get overseas, studying in Australia and completing one of her core requirements (plus a photography class) at an Aussie university.
GETTING INVOLVED: Out of curiosity, Ramos attended a meeting of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers her freshman year. “My father is Puerto Rican. I have a Polish stepfather and my mom is Irish-Italian. There was not a lot of Hispanic influence growing up. I always wanted to learn about my family.” The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, or SHPE, was a perfect fit. “[We try] to be la familia. It really feels that way.” In her sophomore year, Ramos was elected co-President of the club and also serves as Vice Regional Representative to the national organization for Philadelphia.
SHPE’S MISSION: As a pre-professional group, SHPE holds resumé and interviewing workshops and networking events, and also coordinates an event with the National Society of Black Engineers.
LIFE AFTER GRADUATION: After graduation in May, Ramos will move to Detroit to work for General Motors in their PowerTrain section, which manufactures transmissions for cars. For 12 to 18 months, Ramos will work as a College Graduate in Training, rotating through several departments until she finds something that she loves. She’s already familiar with the company, having interned there for three summers. Is she dreading those Michigan winters? Not really, she says. “We grew up in the Poconos,” she laughs. “[Michigan] winters are overrated.”
Originally published Jan. 24, 2008
Originally published on January 24, 2008