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Casey Monahan Talks Tank, Working at a Start-Up and Gender Diversity in Engineering

Casey Monahan graduated from Olin in 2014. She now works at Tank Utility in Boston, a company that monitors propane tanks for usage. Officially, Casey is an Operations Specialist but that’s just the beginning of her job description. Tank is a start-up with about 15 people currently working in its Boston office, including Chandra Little, another Olin alumna.

We reached out to Casey for her thoughts on choosing engineering as a field, working at a start-up, and asked her if she had any advice for other women looking to choose engineering or a STEM-related major in school.

How did you decide on engineering?

I was pretty dead set on being an engineer. I was always good at math and science and people around me pointed out that engineering might be a possibility. I liked the culture of Olin. I was drawn to project-based and team work and I didn’t like the sense of competition at other schools I looked at.

What was your favorite class at Olin?

My favorite class was User Oriented Collaborative Design. It gives you this problem to solve and allows you to investigate the issue wherever it takes you. I ended up working on problems I didn’t think I would ever be able to tackle.

I also did a lot of research at Olin, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I worked one summer for Caitrin Lynch, Jon Adler and Rob Martello – working on very different projects all at the same time. 

What surprised you about being a student at Olin?

It is surprising not to feel like the smartest kid in school anymore. It was also really fun to be surrounded by peers who were all motivated to solve problems and who enjoy learning and investigating.

What is your definition of engineering?

I think in what I would consider to be straight engineering you have a problem and you have some requirements and you figure out how to best solve that problem. For me, engineering is figuring out what the problem is supposed to be. There is a lot of context involved in engineering and I really valued the opportunity to take a step back and look at the context of the problems.

The lack of gender diversity can be an issue at engineering schools. What was your experience at Olin?

I didn’t think about gender that much in the classroom, and it’s cool to be able to take that one stressor off your plate.  However, there is a lot of room to think about diversity and inclusion at Olin and there is room for improvement there. After Olin it’s been important to put effort into building a network of folks with similar experiences of being a minority in tech because it can feel isolating at times. 

Any final thoughts to share?

I think there is just always an opportunity to think bigger picture about what work you are doing and what drives my passion is the bigger picture and how it affects real people.