Julianna Jones was not always confident about being a future woman engineer. “When I was in middle school, I was concerned with what everyone else was doing, and I tried to conform to what was ’cool.’ I often didn’t stay true to myself, and I was embarrassed to be who I truly am,” she said.
All that changed during her sophomore year in high school when she took part in the University of Pittsburgh SWE Women in Engineering Day. Inspired by passionate college students pursuing engineering, she was eager to join SWE and discovered there was a program out there that was just right for her until she got to college. That program was SWENext. Julianna joined SWENext in high school along with a group of peers who were all interested in engineering.
“The SWENext program introduced me to other inspiring women who encouraged me to explore engineering. In addition, it enabled me to participate in several other Women in Engineering days including a trip to Westinghouse. Being a part of this program helped me discover my passion for engineering,” explained Julianna.
Women make up only 20 percent of the engineering workforce today, but Julianna learned it was a career worth pursuing. With the help of activities through SWENext, SWE and other engineering programs that empower women, she discovered that women engineers are making a huge difference in the world, and she found her calling.
Choosing a college is never an easy decision, but it was especially difficult for Julianna who wanted to major in engineering and had applied to 23 different schools during her senior year. After visiting countless schools and narrowing down her options, Julianna had a tough choice to make between Penn State and Virginia Tech. Both had exceptional industrial engineering programs that supported women in engineering. Ultimately, she chose Virginia Tech to pursue a major in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a minor in Business and Computer Science.
Julianna joined the SWE section at Virginia Tech and decided to apply for one of the many SWE scholarships. She was honored to receive the GE Women’s Network Scholarship. With the scholarship in hand, a financial burden was lifted, and she was able to live in a residence hall for aspiring women engineers. The living and learning environment fosters a creative, welcoming and stimulating atmosphere for young women like Julianna who are pursuing a career in engineering.
She hit the ground running at Virginia Tech by getting involved in an abundance of clubs and activities. She is an active member of the Student Government Association, Class Office, Relay for Life Committee and Center for Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED). She also serves as a mentor for CEED’s Women In Engineering Support team helping to encourage first-year female students to explore their talents in engineering.
At the end of her freshman year, Julianna was selected for the Rising Sophomore Abroad Program which involved traveling to Italy, Switzerland and Germany. The program allowed her to explore global engineering, network with international businesses, and explore the world around her.
In the future, Julianna hopes she can combine engineering with her passion for fashion by working as an industrial engineer for a large retail company such as Nordstrom. Her ultimate goal is to make a significant difference in the workplace, especially for those with disabilities, by developing innovative products to help improve quality of life.
“Engineering is a contemporary field that instills confidence in individuals, especially females, by allowing them to discover their passions. As I strive to achieve my dreams, I hope to help other young women realize theirs,” she adds.