What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Natalie Rivera. I was born and raised in Miami. My family is from Colombia.

What degree are you pursuing?

BS in Biomedical Engineering 

Why did you decide to study biomedical engineering?

I have always loved medicine and the human body. I find it so fascinating! When I found out there was a career where I would be able to create devices to improve the medical field, I didn’t hesitate to study it. 

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?

Being a female engineer definitely makes me feel special. We are a minority in the field and that fact alone makes me so proud to show future female engineers that they can do it too! Being a female engineer makes me feel that I have to work twice as hard at times to prove myself and it has made me be the best student I could be and also land some pretty amazing internships. 

What is the most challenging part about being an engineer?

Engineering is all about being creative and providing solutions to problems. All the factors that have to be considered to come up with solutions can definitely be challenging. I have taken classes where there are only two girls including myself and that has always been a little intimidating at first. But like I mentioned, it just makes me feel unique for breaking the stigma of engineering only being for males. 

Are you a part of any clubs or organizations at FIU? Carried any leadership roles?

I am part of Theta Tau, professional engineering fraternity and I have held several roles in the fraternity with fundraising, marketing, pledge class president, and historian. 

Do you have any female mentors or role models that you look up to?

All the female faculty from the BME department are inspirational! The research they lead as well as degrees they hold inspire me to strive to be the best engineer I can be. If they can do it, so can I! One of my role models is my dad. He studied engineering as well in Colombia and he has been my number 1 supporter/motivator throughout my school career. 

Which part about your BME experience are you most proud of and/or excited for?

I had an internship with Boston Scientific working on a lung biopsy needle. The work was so interesting and it was such a great feeling knowing the device I was working on would help people know if they have lung cancer. That feeling of improving people’s lives and giving back is amazing. I am so excited about the future. Research has been advancing to incredible heights and I cannot wait to see what medical advances will come out. Maybe I can leave my mark and contribute to medical research one day. 

Do you have any advice for women in BME?

When it comes to careers, you should study what you feel passionate about! And once you’re in studying, maintain that passion and do not feel discouraged if you’re one of the few females. We are strong, we are smart, and we are capable of doing amazing things!