By Elizabeth Gray, Senior, Product Design

Elizabeth Gray (she/her/hers) is a senior studying Product Design. More than anything, she loves singing, playing music with her friends, and hyping up other artists in the community.

Why did you choose to be an engineer?

I chose to be an engineer because I am obsessed with solving problems. Product Design specifically has given me the ability to do so both analytically and beyond.

As a senior in my final quarter at Stanford, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how I have changed between when I left my family before coming into Stanford in the fall of 2016 and now, again with my family, but four years later and in dramatically different circumstances. Of course I am older, have gained and lost some friends, and obviously “changed” from two quarters abroad. And while I have also become more confident academically, as paradoxical as it is for me to be saying this on the Tau Beta Pi website, I also feel like I have unlearned engineering.

Growing up, I always viewed my older sister as The Creative — active in theater, learning three languages, interested in international relations, and successful at all of it. To differentiate myself, I knew I had to place my interests elsewhere. So I became her STEM counterpart — pushing myself to take the higher-level math and science classes at my school, attending a summer camp to learn biology then another for electrical engineering, and even participated in my state’s Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology and even came into Stanford thinking I might study civil or mechanical engineering. Through all of this, I had fooled myself into thinking that was all I could be.

And then I discovered that was not all I had to be. A few weeks shy of getting my interdisciplinary B.S. in Product Design, I realize how much I had boxed myself into a certain way of thinking just because I thought I had to be that way. While there is still a part of me that loves the methodicism and scientific elegance of my mechanical engineering classes, there’s something about the ambiguity and disruption of design that I now find is inextricable to my sense of self. So when I say that I have unlearned engineering, what I really mean is that even though I am graduating with an engineering degree, I cannot express enough how grateful I am for Stanford to have rattled my perception of what it means to be an interdisciplinary engineer.

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