Ana Lúcia Soares de Souza specializes in 3D building modeling and design for metal structures. She joined Tetra Tech in 2010 and applies her experience to the buildings and resource management markets. Ana Lúcia has a number of certifications including planning and production control, building information modeling, and building technique, and is continuing her education with a degree in engineering. We spoke with Ana Lúcia as part of our #INWED19 campaign to not only celebrate our brilliant women engineers but also to raise their profiles to encourage those who aspire to become engineers and to work in STEM. Follow #WomenInSTEM on social media for more stories.

What do you like about working at Tetra Tech?

Tetra Tech was the company that most valued me in my 26 years of experience. I have the joy of being part of an excellent team with the best and most competent professionals, where knowledge is passed from one to the other aiming to improve the team. Working at Tetra Tech is one of the best opportunities I have ever had; I have learned a great deal and have been able to teach others as well.

What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

I was born to a family with few financial resources, and my father was barely able to support our family. I always studied in public school during the week and worked during the weekends to be able to buy my school supplies and food. Since I was a child, I have always loved to draw. My first investment was a box of crayons, and it may seem like a simple purchase, but due to my financial condition, it was a dream come true.

I have studied a lot and was approved for one of the best technical courses in Brazil. I opted for the course focused on buildings, thinking that I would study architecture one day. When I graduated from this course, I took an internship in industrial projects that specialized in steel structures. This internship changed my mind about architecture as it was love at first sight.

How can we encourage women to pursue careers in engineering?

At the beginning of my career in 1993, the engineering market was predominantly male, and men felt threatened that women would take their place. Many women needed to work to support their families, which was my case, and I still had a young child to care for.

I also experienced unequal pay for being a woman, even when I was performing the same functions and responsibilities as a man.

In 2015, to encourage my 23-year-old to complete his high school education, I enrolled in a Brazilian government program that provides scholarships for underprivileged students. I received a full scholarship to attend five years of college, and I will be graduating next year. My advice to women is to seek opportunities to achieve your dreams, stay persistent, and study hard.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being an engineer?

In my opinion, the most challenging aspects of being an engineer are the complexity of structural calculations, studies and research, and the range of information and situations that can be developed during the projects, which in turn are unique experiences.