Women of STEM

A profile series highlighting women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Elif Tuba Appavuravther, MSc, Structural engineer at IS-YAPI and part-time researcher at Manisa Celal Bayar University

Elif Tuba Appavuravther, MSc, Structural engineer at IS-YAPI and part-time researcher at Manisa Celal Bayar University

Elif Tuba Appavuravther, MSc, Structural engineer at IS-YAPI and part-time researcher at Manisa Celal Bayar University

Connect with Elif on Twitter or her blog, Industry VS Academic

Please tell me about your job.

Every single structure we see around such as buildings, bridges, parking lots, shopping centers, etc., are designed and calculated by civil/structural engineers. We are responsible for making sure the structure is safe enough for living in, in case of heavy wind, snow, or earthquake.

What does a day in the life look like for you?

I try to wake up at 5 am every morning. That is the most productive part of day because I have undivided attention. Depending on what I assigned for that morning (journal reading, research writing, or simply just blog writing) I give it an hour. Once I am done with what I wanted, depending on how much time I have left, I either pack my breakfast or eat at home. I start at 8 am on my industry job and finish at 6 pm. I barely have time for anything else except for an hour of lunch break. If the weather allows, I go out walking for 20 minutes which can at least count for a mid-day exercise. I am home around 6:40 pm and I try to spend it with my family or friends and sometimes I would just watch TV or read a book.

How did you become interested in your field?

My dad was driving us through a bridge when I was nine and all of a sudden he mentioned that he designed that bridge. I never had a doubt that I would become anything but a civil engineer.

Were you involved with STEM when you were a kid?

Yes, throughout my whole life I hated letters and loved numbers. In primary school, I would always win prizes in math competitions which eventually lead me to participate in worldwide math competition conducted by Waterloo University.

Did anyone inspire you to get active in STEM or help you along the way? 

Yes, my math teacher in high school. She has a degree in electrical engineering, she was a model, and she was playing an instrument. Even though I never had chance to learn why she decided to become a math teacher she was awesome - a lifetime role model I would say. Besides her challenging math questions she would write on the board with her left hand and on paper using her right hand. Yes, we all tried doing this and failed badly that time. As I got further involved in STEM, I learned that to use two hands meant using high percentage of brain comparing to others (such as myself).

What kinds of challenges did you overcome/face to get to where you are now?

Out of all the engineering majors, civil engineering is unfortunately the most masculine one. The first question I always got was what do you find interesting in construction along with all the workers? It is sad that civil engineering has been only promoted as the construction phase. It actually includes every single step from site cost estimation to material ordering to access to clean water to design and building phase.

In your field, do you have advice on how to navigate from entry level positions to more leadership roles?

Be stubborn, work hard and play hard. The rest will come.

What advice would you give a high school student looking to go into your field?

Civil engineering industry need more high heeled confident woman. If there is anything I can do to clear your doubts please contact me!

Meriame Berboucha, MRes (Photonics) Student, Forbes Contributor, Science Mixtape producer, Imperial College London and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Meriame Berboucha, MRes (Photonics) Student, Forbes Contributor, Science Mixtape producer, Imperial College London and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Osnat Katz, Master of Physics Student at the University of Manchester

Osnat Katz, Master of Physics Student at the University of Manchester