Wow! Another semester is over. I apologize for not blogging regularly, but this semester was my busiest! I took three engineering classes with labs-electronics, manufacturing, and thermodynamics. So, this post is going to be more about my experience of understanding that I’m not alone as an engineer with a disability.
Lab classes have always been interesting for me, my professors, and classmates. I use a wheelchair and have limited use of my hands, so doing the physical work of building something is usually out of the question. Fortunately, my school has been very accommodating, and I am always flexible about working through things. To some, it seems that engineering would be an impossible major for me since I will never be able to machine or build things by myself. In fact, one of my lab instructors told me, “I just don’t see you as an engineer.” I said nothing, but thought- thank you, have I really just wasted three years of my academic career?
No, I have not. With every major and career, there are many different facets. For me, I know that I will be unable to physically build projects, but I can communicate my designs verbally, on paper, and on the computer. Engineering designs need to be imagined, but also communicated to teammates, employees, and customers. In fact, engineers are notorious for having problems with communication, so I can be a standout candidate in this area.
In addition, while I was in my school’s disability services office yesterday waiting to take a final, I stumbled across a magazine article that featured an engineer with quadriplegia. I was shocked, another engineer with a disability? Some days I feel like I’m the only one, and I’m not sure if I have ever read about another engineer with a physical disability. He said that much of his job involves modeling designs on the computer using CAD programs. I knew it! I almost took the magazine and sent the article to the lab instructor mentioned above.
In conclusion, though people working and going to school with a disability are definitely not as common, we are trying to make our way so that we can be successful for ourselves and our society. Here’s a link featuring more engineers with disabilities! Can you believe it?
Also, the Muscular Dystrophy Association unveiled a new website to help people with physical disabilities with transitions in their lives. I want to share it with you because it really is what the heart of this blog is about.