Carnegie Mellon University

Breaking the Mold

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Engineers Head for Wall Street

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Carnegie Mellon's Ester Barbuto, Jessica Tsang and Sona Avetisian are trendsetters. The recent grads join the growing ranks of engineers heading for Wall Street.

In 2007, 10 percent of the university's graduating engineers opted for jobs in the competitive financial sector compared with just one percent in 2003, according to the Carnegie Mellon's career placement center. Barbuto and Tsang, who received their degrees in chemical engineering, and Avetisian, a civil and environmental engineer, will all work as analysts for Goldman Sachs in New York City.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase my problem-solving skills, and to show how diverse an engineering education really is," said Barbuto, who served as president of the campus chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. "Carnegie Mellon's rigorous academic demands simulate the real working world and that's one of our greatest skill sets."

Tsang, who grew up in New York City, said she's happy to be going home to a great job.

"I wanted to land a job where I could make a difference and use not just my mathematical and engineering skills, but all my communication and teamwork expertise," said Tsang, who praised the university's senior project classes for instilling the importance of teamwork.

The women's comments come at a time when recent reports show strong educational and professional surges by women. For example, in high schools nationwide, three out of five National Honor Society members are girls. In addition, female college graduates — less than half of all graduates a decade ago — now outnumber their male counterparts in most industrialized countries, according to a recent report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A new study called "The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering and Technology," focuses on women with degrees in traditionally male-dominated fields — who occupy 41 percent of the lower echelon corporate jobs for scientists, engineers and technologists. The study is the fourth in a multi-year project by a task force of 42 global companies.

Carnegie Mellon career center counselors report that recruiters consistently tap engineering students for interviews because of their broad skill sets.

"From day one, our students are learning how to innovate, work in teams and adapt to a myriad of situations. That's why we see our engineers succeed not only in traditional fields, but also in business, finance, law and medicine," said Kurt Larsen, assistant dean of undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering.

Photographed (l. to r.): Ester Barbuto and Jessica Tsang

Related Links: Chemical Engineering  |  Civil & Environmental Engineering  |  Society of Women Engineers