What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Denise Hsu and I’m originally from Taiwan. I’ve also lived in California, Singapore, Shanghai, and Pennsylvania.
What degree are you pursuing?
I’m pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering
Why did you decide to study biomedical engineering?
I did not start my engineering career/studies in BME. In fact, I was a Mechanical Engineer prior to pursuing my PhD. When I was an undergrad, the school I attended did not offer BME as a single major for BS degrees. I therefore double majored BME with Mechanical, and decided to continue my MS in Mechanical at the same school. Upon graduation, I worked in construction and manufacturing electronics for a total of 9 years as a full-time Mechanical Engineer before I applied to FIU’s BME program. While I was working, I noticed a rise in demand for parts and components that are designed for healthcare products, and that was a sign for BME as an emerging engineering field.
What’s it like being a woman in engineering? Do you feel that your gender gives you a different perspective and/or experience from your male colleagues?
From my personal experiences, I do not feel much different for being a woman engineer. Based on my overall post-bachelor experiences in both the US and Taiwan, my personal experiences with colleagues are almost exactly the same in both countries.
What is the most challenging part about being an engineer?
Time management and project management. Whatever process or product an engineer designs, undergo numerous edits, amendments, modifications, versions, etc., of which involves numerous meetings and discussions with colleagues, partners, supervisors, etc.. Being on top of all versions/edits and meeting schedules can be challenging at times, in addition to effective communication amongst team members or clients.
Are you a part of any clubs or organizations at FIU? Carried any leadership roles?
Yes, I am the current President in Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society) and the Event Coordinator in Alpha Eta Mu Beta (Biomedical Engineering Honor Society).
Do you have any female mentors or role models that you look up to?
One of my previous work-study supervisors was a good mentor. I’ve talked to her about my personal issues, and she has always been very helpful. As for role models…maybe Jane Goodall? I met her in person when I was in high school. One of my drawings for Roots and Shoots was selected for a calendar page and she came to deliver a talk. Other good examples of admirable strong women include Ariel from the Little Mermaid, Jasmine from Aladdin, and Mulan. The current President of Taiwan is also a woman.
Which part about your BME experience are you most proud of and/or excited for?
I’m excited to be a pioneer of a new engineering field (BME).
Do you have any advice for women in BME?
Do what you love and love what you do. Follow your heart and keep moving forward!