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This Barbie is an Electrical Engineer

Meet Ellie Hopkins, an Electrical Engineering student finishing up her first semester at BYU after transferring from UVU earlier this year. However, Ellie’s journey in Electrical Engineering has not been anything like she expected. Her journey in engineering began with a high school with a welding class that sparked her love for STEM.

“I thought it would be fun," Ellie recalls about her debut into welding, "and I really loved it.” Ellie rocked a pink helmet in welding class–standing out in a sea of gray.

As Ellie began to explore post-graduation opportunities in welding, she realized that engineering offered a better lifestyle and career, while still giving her opportunities to express her creativity. Talking with a family friend who was an engineer led Ellie to pursue Electrical Engineering at Utah Valley University, where she already held an associate’s degree from high school.

Ellie attended UVU for one semester before she went on a mission to Nashville, Tennessee. After her mission in Nashville, Tennessee, Ellie made the decision to transfer to BYU. While she admits that the transfer has been anything but easy, she is grateful for the change because of other opportunities she has been presented with.

One of those opportunities was IMMERSE. Ellie did summer research in telemetry under Dr. Rice and wrote a research paper, which she presented at the International Telemetry Conference this past fall. Her paper titled “Cloud Computing for Aeronautical Telemetry” explores the possibility of using the cloud to replace some of the hardware in telemetry ground stations. Her paper was based on research of the cost of implementing a system of this type, and how effective it would be.

When asked about her experience in a male-dominated field, Ellie said, “Sometimes I’ve definitely felt at a disadvantage because many of the guys truly are just immersed in engineering and circuitry. It was their high school hobby, or they had a workshop in their parent’s basement. It’s easy to feel like you’re behind because you didn’t have those experiences growing up, but it’s also kind of fun because it gives you a different perspective. As a woman in STEM, there is an empty space for you to fill, but you just have to be willing to go for it and get over some imposter syndrome and be able to say, ‘You know what, I grew up with Barbie. And as far as I remember, there wasn’t an Electrical Engineering Barbie when I was a kid. Maybe I’m the next.’”

Whether or not Ellie has a Barbie made in her honor, we are fortunate to have her in our program!