To celebrate Girl Day during Engineering Week 2022, we are spotlighting one of our talented female engineers, Becca Deeken. Becca started at Manhard in October 2020 after graduating from Oklahoma State in the spring of that year.
We sat down with Becca to learn more about her path to becoming a civil engineer and what she is doing to inspire the next generation:
What was your first experience with engineering?
For as long as I can remember, I was intrigued by how things worked and figuring out the logical answer to almost anything, even if there wasn’t one. As a kid, I loved to watch shows about how things were made and was obsessed with any kind of puzzle.
I was always drawn to math and science courses and was lucky to have several teachers in middle and high school that pushed and encouraged me in those areas. I remember becoming aware of engineering and the broad range of careers that it could lead to my junior year of high school from my pre-calc teacher. Each week she would highlight a different type of stem related career to expose us to all sorts of different jobs as we were applying for college.
Why did you decide to pursue civil engineering?
Like a lot of high school students, I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. I grew up in a family of educators, so as a kid I just assumed that was the only kind of job you could have. Going into college, I started out as a general engineering student and had no idea if that would even stick by the time I was done with school.
I decided on civil engineering because I liked the idea of being able to tangibly see the results of the work in everyday life and using technical skills to make a difference for people without them even realizing it. I got an internship my junior year and was still unsure of what kind of career I wanted at that point. The job was in land development, and I found that I really enjoyed the variety and fast pace of the industry. After that summer, I decided to pursue land development full time after graduation.
What are you doing or planning to do to inspire, encourage or teach the next generation of female engineers?
Throughout college, I mentored younger students and would help to encourage them throughout their college career. As I mentioned, many of my family members are in education, so speaking with them and encouraging them to share with their students’ different careers, like my teachers did with me, so that kids are exposed to all sorts of jobs. By sharing what I do and educating people around me, they can pass that along to the kids that they speak to everyday. A big vision for my career is to teach and eventually mentor younger women as I progress and learn in this career.
What advice would you give incoming engineers?
One of the most important things that I learned in college was to explore anything that piques your interest. Whether it’s a hobby, a show, a friendship, or a career, stepping into new things will help you figure out what you do and don’t want to be a part of your life. Part of that process for me, was reaching out to many people in every kind of job to understand what they did, what they liked, and what every day looked like for them. I would encourage any young. I would tell young engineers that it is important to ask a lot of questions as you are working on things. It is easy to get stuck on small things and it is likely someone around you has a quick fix or a way of explaining a concept that will help you to understand it. Also, even though the nature of the job is in the small details, it’s important to understand the big picture of a project so that all those small things can come together in the end.