Michelle Oyen

Dr. Michelle-Oyen

Prof. Michelle Oyen is a professor at East Carolina University. More information about her and her work can be found at: https://cet.ecu.edu/engineering/faculty-and-staff/michelle-l-oyen/

When did you first know that you wanted to be a scientist or engineer?

My father picked me out as a future engineer at a pretty young age.  He was not an engineer himself, but worked at a technical company, and so he encouraged me a great deal and introduced me to mentors and role models.  I was pretty set on becoming an engineer by about age 10, but I didn’t decide what type of engineer until I started college (Michigan State) and took the Intro to Materials class and fell in love with the field. 

What is your happiest moment in science or engineering so far?

New ones happen all the time!  That’s why research is such a great job, you always get to do something new and in many cases unexpected. 

Would you ever leave science or engineering? Why?

No way.  I love what I do.  The research and the collaborations and the teaching and the work with students are all so rewarding, they almost make up for the administration and paperwork!

What was the most challenging experience you ever had as a scientist or engineer?

I don’t think there are many females in STEM who have not had uncomfortable experiences with being reminded that they were female and that this was an issue.  But it drives me to prove them wrong and to work harder to change things for the next generations of girls who might go into STEM fields. 

Knowing what you do now know, would you be a scientist or engineer again? Why?

Absolutely, because even with the challenges it’s just so rewarding. 

Where do you find science or engineering in your daily routine?

At home—in the kitchen, when I build Lego models for fun, when I do crafts or household projects.  Always needing to do hands-on things. 

When have you felt like you belonged?

Most of the time—the negative incidents are few and far between, really. 

When did you feel like you didn’t belong?

I lived and worked in England for 11.5 years and I’m just getting to realize that I was never totally settled or comfortable over there, now that I’m back in the USA. I always felt foreign and like an outsider, although it did get better with time.   

What do you like to do outside of science?

Cook, bake, crochet, and now that I’m back in the US and have a house with a yard, garden!