On her way to Georgia Tech, an aspiring computer engineer talks about COD and her career path


David Jura

Tiffany Montgomery

Vandy Manyeh, News Reporter

Tiffany Montgomery is the vice president of the engineering and technology club at the College of DuPage. Montgomery is a computer engineering major and was one of the panelists at the college’s women in STEM event. She is also involved with the college’s emerging entrepreneurs program and sees COD as the pathway to a career in STEM. The Courier news reporter had a chat with Montgomery during a brief intermission at the women in STEM event. Here is how it went:

Vandy Manyeh: Why are you studying computer engineering?

Tiffany Montgomery: I’ve always known that I love science and mathematics. In eighth grade, I figured out what programming was and I took Codecademy classes online, and my junior year of high school I took computer programming I and II and AP computer science. Out of high school, I thought I wanted to do computer science, which is more computer theory and complex features. But then, I got more into robotics and more into electrical, physical computing, and I decided computer engineering is a good major because it allows me to learn more about electrical, and to have a breadth of things that are robotics.  

VM: What do you do outside of your study at COD?

TM: I am the vice president of the engineering and technology club, and I am also on the emerging entrepreneurs program. I occasionally go to a lot of different clubs; I wish I could go to the Society of Women Engineers more often. I think I’ve been there once, and I hope to go more this semester. I’ve done the Pride Alliance frequently. I do long-distance running also. Some of my members at the engineering and technology have a mileage club going, so we run a lot. And then, I also learn how to play guitars.

VM: How is COD a great place for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in any of the STEM fields?

TM: I think COD has a lot of things in place for girls that want to go into STEM. We have the Society of Women Engineers, we have female faculty members, we have a lot of counselors and advisors that are sensitive to issues. A lot of professors at COD are supportive of having more women in STEM. In general, COD is a great place for future engineers to go because our engineering classes are awesome. We have the engineering pathways program which is an agreement with U of I to have a lot of the engineering classes transferred straight into U of I.

U of I is like one of the top schools for engineering in the country, so that is amazing that COD can say that our freshman and sophomore classes are equivalent to one of the top engineering schools in the country. COD is cost effective, there are plenty of scholarships available to students that want to go into engineering and I think based on my experience I will recommend COD.

VM: What personal career goals do you have after COD?

TM: In general, my career goals includes just owning a robotics company, I am not really concerned about what type of robots as long as I can say I am producing these robots. I think automation is definitely something I am passionate about, not only because robots are cool and artificial intelligence is cool, but I also want to have an impact on making sure that as we move into a more automated society, we are taking the proper precautions to make sure that human beings are still accommodated, to make sure that we are still making jobs for human beings, instead of allowing robots take everything. I want to make sure that some ethical issues are considered, so that is what I want to focus on after school.

VM: How important is it for female students to pursue a degree in any of the STEM fields?

TM: I think it is a kind of controversial answer. I think it is important to have a gender balance in every aspect of life because different genders experience life in different ways. There is a survey that researched different groups; they had all-male groups, all-female groups, and mixed groups, and it was always the equal balance among gender groups that came up with the most ideas, not the female ones, not the male ones. I think it is important to have diversity not just with gender, but ethnic backgrounds and anything like that. You need a diversity of ideas in any group in order to be creative because you can’t be creative unless you know how to take a lot of things and put them together. Now, as far as how important it is for a girl to go into STEM, I think it is important to make sure that you are aware of all the opportunities you have out there. STEM careers are very lucrative, and it is almost guaranteed that you are going to have a job, so girls should definitely consider STEM.

VM: Any final advice for female students who would like to pursue a career in STEM?

TM: Acknowledge that what you are doing is difficult, then embrace that difficulty. So, you are always going to have a moment where you feel uncomfortable, where you feel like you are not supposed to be where you are, or where you don’t feel good enough, just embrace that and understand that’s normal. If you understand that, then it will be very helpful when you get that first bad grade on an exam or when somebody shoots down your idea and doesn’t listen to you in a meeting, just understand that life is hard and you have to build the motivation to keep going.