“You should really consider engineering”


Photos courtesy of Teter AE

It was her senior year of high school, and Hannah Moss (2014) had already accepted admission to Fresno State as a business major. She loved math and thought accounting might be her calling, until her physics teacher changed her mind. As he passed back a test, she noticed hers had a message at the top: “You should really consider engineering.”

At Dog Days, Hannah took a leap of faith and changed her major to mechanical engineering. She signed up for an introductory class, but soon found it more overwhelming than reassuring.

“It became very apparent that I was a little bit of a fish out of water because I’d never worked on an engine, still haven’t to this day, I’ve never pulled apart a computer and put it back together. That’s just not who I was, so I got really intimidated my first semester.”

During her second semester, when a mandatory advising hold popped up on her account, Hannah marched down to the department chair’s office with an already filled out major change request form.

But Dr. Happawana wasn’t so easily persuaded.

“He was like, ‘Just give me one more semester…you give me one more semester, and maybe you’ll change your mind. So I took a few more courses and I went back to him every single semester after that.”

While working as an intern during her last semester, Hannah met her current boss at an offsite training. After hesitating to send him a resume, he found her on LinkedIn and gave her a part time job at Teter AE, a Central California firm that brings architects and engineers together.

After graduation, she became a full-time employee and “Engineer in Training.” Her projects include designing the mechanical and plumbing systems for CSU Bakersfield’s Humanities Administration Building.

Being a woman in the industry has its fair share of challenges, but none that she can’t overcome.

“There’s definitely more women getting into the industry, but you have to hold your own. It’s that feeling of still being a lady, but having to run with the boys.”

Hannah is not afraid to get her hands dirty and is always eager to learn more. Earlier this year, she passed the mechanical engineering licensing test and can now officially add professional engineer (PE) to the end of her name.

“I just love the support I get from everybody [at Teter.] We actually have five offices… and the second it was put out there that I got my license, I was getting calls and emails from people in all the offices telling me congratulations and they were so excited for me because it really is that sense of camaraderie here.”

Now that Hannah is licensed, she can finally catch her breath but hopes the feeling doesn’t last for too long.

“I think sometimes, you’re in your job and you’re like, ‘Man, I wish I had less work, but I’m always like, ‘I just want more to do. I want to get my hands on more projects… I want to do as much as I can and learn as much as I can and I’m just really happy where I am.”

Hannah was one signature away from a different major and, ultimately, a different life. She is grateful to Dr. Happawana for investing time in her as a student and showing her that life is full of learning curves.

“It was kind of that realization that just because it’s hard… doesn’t mean that I should just run…If I had chosen to go back to business…who knows what job I would be doing or where I’d be. I definitely don’t regret making the decision to stay. I think it really worked out for the best.”

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