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Women in Engineering: A Profile of Penn State’s Hannah Kokinda

Hannah Kokinda began her fascination with engineering in high school and decided to major in nuclear engineering in college. Despite being one of few girls in the program, she has risen above the challenges and been successful in her studies. Below is an interview with Kokinda about her major and challenges she’s overcome. Hopefully it acts as an inspiration for anyone else thinking about engineering. 

Q: What made you decide to go into engineering?

A: I started a program called PLTW (Project Lead the Way) in high school and it taught me about engineering and what engineers do. All of the projects that I had to do throughout high school helped me decide to go into engineering as my major. 

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Q: What has it been like as a woman in a male-dominated field of study?

A: Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but it pushes me to do well in my class. Using it for motivation rather than being overwhelmed has helped me love my major even more. 

Q: What is the most difficult part of your major?

A: Classes are rigorous, but manageable, however, it takes time out of your social life. Making sure to have a healthy balance of being with my friends and studying was difficult for me. 

Female software engineer
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Q: What is the most rewarding part of your major?

A: The most rewarding part is knowing that I am studying something that I am passionate about, and it makes me think outside of the box through real-world applications rather than just seeing it as homework. 

Q: How has the pandemic affected your education?

A: It has had a huge effect, it’s definitely challenging trying to take a lab online. I feel [that] if we were to be in person, most students would be able to retain the information better, where[as] since we changed to online learning due to the pandemic, we just watch videos of lectures where there is little to no teacher-student interaction.

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Q: What advice would you give to younger girls planning on pursuing engineering?

A: It’s definitely a challenging major, however, if you keep a positive mindset then you will be able to tackle these obstacles.

Kokinda plans to add a minor of astrobiology or virology to her major due to her increased love for the STEM field. She believes it’s important that younger women heading to college are exposed to more and more women who have taken up majors in the sciences to let them know that while it is difficult, it is entirely possible.

Keep inspiring women across the world to be a part of STEM!

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Brooke is a freshman at Boston University studying Neuroscience with a minor in Deaf Studies. Her hobbies include hiking, making (a lot of) food, watching Netflix, and writing! Her Instagram is @beebedell :)
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