J.F. Downie Smith most likely couldn’t have imagined his great-granddaughter Erica Hollander as an Iowa State software program engineering main when he was dean of engineering and director of the Engineering Experiment Station from 1948-1959. Software program engineering didn’t even exist as a subject but, and within the Nineteen Fifties ladies made up lower than 1% of scholars in American engineering packages.
However when Hollander graduates this weekend, she’ll proceed her household’s Iowa State engineering custom began by Downie Smith – and, along with her eye on the longer term, she’s additionally constructing paths for different ladies to pursue engineering and computing careers.
Once I determined to review engineering, my dad mentioned, “Effectively, you possibly can’t go into engineering with out trying out Iowa State!” And he was proper. Iowa State was the right mixture of nice engineering packages and a welcoming campus that felt totally different from every other I had visited.
That’s how I discovered myself in my first coding class within the fall of 2019, with none coding expertise earlier than, realizing how a lot there was to study and questioning a bit if software program engineering was the appropriate place for me.
So I sat within the entrance row of sophistication, took so many notes, and handled Supplemental Instruction for the course like one other required class and went to each session. And each time I reached out, I used to be met with assist to assist me create a powerful basis in coding.
My TAs answered all my questions, my classmates have been supportive, and even buddies from my dorm have been all tremendous encouraging as I used to be beginning out in software program engineering programs.
However I went to an all-girls highschool, so I do know the facility of getting a bunch of girls round me to assist and push me. It’s why I joined my sorority Gamma Phi Beta – however I additionally wanted that in my main: different ladies who had been the place I used to be, accomplished it and been profitable.
That’s when I discovered Digital Girls and I joined an incredible group of girls in different computing majors! I instantly had superior mentors who all the time cheered me on and gave me sage recommendation about issues like what courses to take – and methods to get an internship.
I discovered my first software program engineering internship at John Deere after my sophomore yr. I really continued to work part-time on that workforce in the course of the college yr, plus I did one other summer season internship with John Deere after my junior yr. Now I’m headed to a full-time job at John Deere in Chicago after commencement.
My fellow Digital Girls additionally inspired me to tackle management roles. I’ve been the Digital Girls mentoring program coordinator, vice chairman, and, for the final yr and a half, president. It’s been tremendous rewarding to assist join different ladies simply beginning out with networking and position fashions of their subject.
As I prepare for graduation, I can’t assist however marvel what my great-grandfather would consider me graduating from the faculty the place he was dean.
However, perhaps extra importantly, I do know precisely how my grandma, his daughter, Eleanor Hollander (’63 baby improvement) felt. Earlier than she died earlier this yr, my grandma instructed me on a regular basis how a lot she liked Iowa State and the way completely satisfied she was I studied engineering right here.
So, I’m actually excited and proud to graduate as an Iowa State software program engineer. Excited in regards to the development of know-how and the potential to contribute to that – and happy with my household’s connections to Iowa State. And I’m able to get on the market within the work world to proceed my dedication to empowering different ladies in STEM.
Software program engineering is a dual-administered main shared between Iowa State’s Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Hollander additionally occurs to have “dual-administered” household ties to Iowa State:
One great-grandfather J.F. Downie Smith was dean of engineering and one other great-grandfather, Willard Hollander, was school in genetics from 1951-1976.
Hollander’s paternal grandparents, Eleanor (’63 baby improvement) and Adrian (Ted) (’63 accounting), met on a blind date as Iowa State college students and married the day after commencement. At the very least 5 different members of Erica’s household have additionally attended Iowa State.