Engineers Week 2023 Interview: Khiya Armstrong, EI, Engineering Associate
Today, in addition to Engineers Week, a week dedicated to celebrating the future of engineering, we celebrate Girl Day, an opportunity to show girls how engineers change our world. The week, and this day, was created by the National Society for Professional Engineers (NSPE) an organization that is dedicated to “Creating a world where the public can be confident that engineering decisions affecting their lives are made by qualified and ethically accountable professionals.” The theme this year for Engineers Week is Creating the Future. With this theme in mind, we interviewed six of our employees who are newer to the field of engineering and are paving the way in the engineering field each day. Read our interviews each day to find out what excites them about their current work and the future.
Engineers Week 2023: Today, meet Khiya Armstrong, EI, Engineering Associate in our Asheville office
Why did you pursue the engineering field?
I wanted to be involved in designing spaces that people enjoy, and at the same time, find ways to restore and conserve our natural spaces. Everything along the lines of urban parks and streetscapes to state forest trails have inspired me, and I want to help conserve and improve those spaces for future generations.
What excites you about problem solving?
In this line of work, problem solving doesn’t generally mean one solution. It leaves room for interpretation and creativity to produce various designs and approaches. There’s some flexibility with it and that makes it more challenging and fun.
What are your hopes for the future of engineering? How do you plan to contribute to that?
I hope to see civil engineering really strive towards connecting people and nature, especially at the city planning level. I think the best way to ensure that happens is to get involved with local organizations that have those same goals, get involved with the planning boards, and hopefully, work on one project at a time that proves successful and inspires the next great project.
Is there a project you’ve recently worked on that you are proud of?
I’m very early on in my career in civil engineering, and I have not yet been involved in a project from its beginning to completion. However, I will be part of a team of engineers that will be helping Haywood County with cleanup and restoration after storms devastated local areas in 2021, and I’m really looking forward to being involved with this type of project.
Is there something new in the field that you’d like to share or that excites you?
I recently read a short article talking about the prospects of self-healing concrete, and it was fascinating to think of the ways that type of material could be applied in the built environment.
Did you / do you have any influential women who have inspired you to get into the field?
Unfortunately, I did not have any influential women inspire me to get into engineering. But once I got here, I met a few women who showed me how to make a place in this field, and how to be a leader. They lead their team by building them up, challenging them, and providing opportunities to learn from more experienced engineers. Their leadership style generated nothing but respect and helped foster the future generation of skilled engineers. Once I saw that, I knew that’s what I wanted to be.
Do you have any advice for girls who are interested in engineering?
Don’t be afraid to jump in. Seeing how things work in the field provides a wealth of knowledge when you’re trying to design things in the office. Try things out, fail, try something new, and repeat. Find yourself a mentor, someone that clicks with you, who will challenge you, and who will inspire you.