Sheida: Why Chemical Engineering?

Why am I in Chemical Engineering, you ask? I ask myself this question daily during the school year. There are a lot of assignments and it requires a lot of studying and problem solving. So why am I here?

Let’s backtrack a little bit to my childhood. I distinctly recall being fascinated by the creation of homemade play dough before I even knew how to read. Maybe because it was made so simply in a pot used to cook the food I ate, using ingredients that were usually used to feed me but that it was NOT edible (of course I tried it anyway… VERY salty). I also remember attempting to make chalk in my backyard following a recipe from Bill Nye the Science Guy (unfortunately for overeager 6-year-old scientist-me, there was a key ingredient missing to make it harden).

Then I thought about some of the shows I watched regularly as a kid: ‘The Magic School Bus’, ‘Dexter’s Lab’, and ‘Zoom’ to name a few. It became obvious to me that I was always interested in the magic that is science.

Despite my fascination with science, I was once convinced I was meant to be a nurse. I liked to help people and I remember, in middle school, carrying band-aids, alcohol swabs, tweezers, and Polysporin around with me in my bag JUST IN CASE someone needed them (I actually still always carry these things with me). In high school, I earned co-op credits for volunteering on the surgical floor’s playroom at CHEO and I worked briefly at a nursing home part-time—both in preparation for a career in healthcare.

In grade 12, I was ready to accept my offer into the nursing program but something was holding me back. Sure, I liked to help people but I didn’t have the passion for healthcare that my mother (a nurse) had.

Something else I had realized that year was that I loved all things math and science-related. Perusing the uOttawa viewbook, I realized all of the courses I enjoyed were pre-requisites for Chemical Engineering. I, then, decided to apply to the Chemical Engineering program with the co-op option and nothing held me back from accepting my offer shortly thereafter.

Chemical Engineering is a very diverse field with a wide variety of subject matter where anybody can find something they enjoy.

Since starting this program, I keep asking myself why I stay—especially when it gets hectic with all the assignments and exams. Then I realize there is nothing else I would rather do.


Sheida Stephens


8 thoughts on “Sheida: Why Chemical Engineering?

  1. Wow, Sheida, I really like how you followed your instincts when choosing your field of study. Passion for one’s work can be highly motivating, especially when facing stressful exams and assignments. Perhaps you’ll invent the “play-dough” of the next generation.

  2. It’s inspiring to see how much you love what you do, despite how stressful it is. Not many people would be able to put up with the stress of such a demanding program.

  3. I’m in my last year of highschool, and it’s time for me to make my final decision on my university and program. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Sheida It’s good to know that there are so many opportunities in engineering for women.

  4. Good to see more and more women in engineering. Diversity is so important. Plus it makes for much more interesting social events.

  5. hey this is a really interesting post. its gr8 to see diversity in engineering, women and men working together, so im glad you broke down the barrier stereotype and opted for engineering.

  6. I’m stumbling upon this wonderfully written blog entry a little bit late, but I just wanted to thank you for the inspirational post! Not many women go into career paths such as this and it’s really great to get your insight.

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