Hi girls! For today’s perspectives section, we interviewed Rachel Szteinberg, who joined GE about a year ago as a member of the Edison Engineering Development Program. Read on to see what this recent college graduate has to say about studying and working in STEM…
GE Girls: What did you major in? What kind of classes did you take in addition to regular school? (camps, etc.)
Rachel: I majored in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), but I wasn’t always sure that was the best major for me. My first introduction to engineering was a middle school technology class. Our big project was to make a race car out of a block of wood. We used a computer to make scaled models as a guide for when we would eventually use the machining equipment to transform the wooden block into a car. I loved using the computer program to design the car’s curves and notches, and I spent hours after school sanding the wheel holes to make sure it would run smoothly. I finished that class with a newfound curiosity for engineering, so in high school, I chose to take an elective called “Principles of Engineering”. That course gave me an overview of several different types of engineering and their practical applications, so by the time I came to college, I knew I was interested in both mechanical and electrical engineering. During my freshman year, my advisor suggested I take a class called Personal Robotics, since it seemed to be a combination of my interests. Although we hoped the course would help me decide my major, it actually led me to consider yet another type of engineering. The course had been taught by the Computer Science department to serve as a fun introduction to coding, and I found that I totally enjoyed software engineering as well! Eventually, I chose ECE since it has both software and hardware elements, giving me the chance to do both circuits and coding.
GE Girls: How did your education help you start a career in a STEM field?
Rachel: With an ECE degree, I have a wide range of career options, from circuits to embedded systems to software engineering. I graduated Lafayette College in the spring of 2017; I’ve only been working at GE Healthcare for just over a year, but already I see how my college classes gave me a foundation I can build upon. Even in my current software role, I need to constantly learn new tools and software languages, but college helped me understand the basics as well as how to learn these new topics and apply them. I see software languages like any language. If you know one language – which consists of words (variables) or sentences (methods/loops) – then writing in another language just comes down to learning the syntax (formatting).
GE Girls: What do you do on a daily basis?
Rachel: I am currently in a rotational leadership program at GE Healthcare called the Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP) which means I get to try out four different engineering roles, each for six months. I love being an Edison Engineer because of this opportunity to learn different jobs, be on different teams, and work on different products. My current rotation has me making an iPad app for locating equipment in hospitals. We have tons of products throughout the hospital, so my team is working on making sure we can find every item by using technology to track them. A typical day includes meeting with my team to discuss any obstacles we have and then working on the next step of my app or testing out equipment my coworkers have designed. Working with a team is incredible as we often brainstorm to fix problems and sometimes we come up with creative ideas and apps too!
GE Girls: What is your favorite part of your job?
Rachel: My favorite part of my job is making a product that I know is going to help people. My two first Edison rotations focused on making software that would make it easier and quicker for patients to get CT scans or MRI scans. My current rotation is making software to help hospitals find their portable equipment easier, making sure they don’t misplace something that could help save someone’s life. I love working in healthcare because it lets me use and create technology to help people.
GE Girls: What would you tell 14-year-old you?
Rachel: Keep working on what you love and know that you can do it. Open your mind and explore all areas where you have an interest. You truly can do anything you put your mind to. It makes no difference what gender you are, what your background is (whether or not you have done this before), or what others think you should do – follow your own dreams, work hard and be amazing. You can change the world, so never give up doing what you love.