Greetings, Science Cheerleader fans! Cheerleading was born in the U.S., but it’s catching on worldwide! Please give your attention to Marjorie, a cheerleader from the Montreal Alouettes and a mechanical package engineer. Don’t know what that is? Read on!
What turned you on to engineering and when?
I always loved science. From high school I knew I would be going into a science field. A friend at the time was at Polytechnique and talked to me about it, how hard it was but how much he loved it. This is when I decided to go there too. And I never regretted my choice!
You have a mechanical engineering degree from the École Polytechnique de Montréal. What caused you to pursue that field?
In CEGEP, which is between high school and university, I really liked the courses of applied science and particularly kinematics. But I was not fond of chemical science or biology. After that the choice was simple so I tried mechanical engineering and loved it!
Where, specifically, are you working?
It is a consulting engineering firm specialized in the mining industry located in downtown Montreal.
Engineering in the U.S. is often separated from the shop floor. Do you work “hands-on” with the hardware?
I do not have a hands-on day-to-day work life but I will get to get to mining sites for start-ups of the plants.
You’re now cheering for the Montreal Alouettes. How long have you cheered for them, and why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader?
It is now my 4th year as a Montreal Alouettes cheerleader. I have two passions in life, the first you already know, is Science, and the other one is Dance! I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old. The reason I knew about it was because I had a friend in CEGEP who got in and loved it and told me about it. Then I tried out the next year and didn’t get in. The auditions are really hard and stressful. But I did not give up and I went on to try out four times before getting in!
Please describe what you do as an engineer as if you were explaining this career to a 12-year-old.
First, we evaluate the needs of our client. When this is done we write specifications to buy what we established the client needs. After that, we do a bid request to suppliers and evaluate each of them in comparison with our specifications. The best bid is then chosen and we coordinate with the rest of the other equipment we chose for them to fit together in a building. I also coordinate with all the other fields of engineering like electrical, piping, structure and automation on each equipment for everything to be compatible. When everything is done in engineering, the equipment is shipped to the site of the mine and installed in the building. We usually go to the site and supervise that everything is installed correctly as per our specifications.
What does it mean for you to be an engineer?
First of all, in my mind I think engineers are really important to society. We are surrounded by things designed by engineers. We, as engineers, also have a responsibility towards society to be thorough and precise. I think most people underestimate the extent of our work and how it affects them.
How do the qualities that make you a great cheerleader benefit you in your engineering career (or vice versa)?
Being a cheerleader, you need to be comfortable with people and know how to talk to people, I think this helps me in meetings at work and with other engineers and clients. Being a dancer, you also have to have a good memory and pay attention to details so I think that helped me throughout my degree and career.
There are stereotypes about cheerleaders in our society that make it seem unlikely that a cheerleader could be an engineer. Obviously these stereotypes are untrue, and you are a great example of that. How do you feel about breaking down negative stereotypes about cheerleaders? Have you faced a situation where you had to challenge a stereotype about cheerleaders [or engineers]?
Well the truth is I have to battle stereotypes in both fields, as a cheerleader and as a female engineer. As you can imagine, it is mostly a field with men. I think it is important in both places, to be confident in yourself and not let ignorant people get to you. There will always be these people that think cheerleaders are dumb or that female engineers are not as good as men but we can break these stereotypes by being ourselves and staying strong together.
Best cheerleading experience?
This is easy, I have two! First when I finally got it the team in 2009. I tried out so many times and it was so incredible to be a part of the team! A judge of the audition even came to me at the end to tell me I was her favorite and that she loved my audition! The second one would have to be winning the Grey Cup in 2009. It was such a whirlwind of emotions because the game was so close. And after that coming back to Montreal and doing the parade downtown Montreal with 300 000 fans in the streets!
Best engineering-related experience?
I think the whole engineering degree and the time I spent in university. I learned a lot during those 4 years. The degree was really difficult so you had to have help from people in the fields you were less comfortable with and in return you helped other people in the fields you found easier. The fact that it was so tough brought us together. I learned a way of life there, that you have to work for what you want but that everything is possible. I also made really good friends that I still have and will have for a long time I hope.
What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Be confident in yourself, you are beautiful just the way you are.
What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
Apart from being a cheerleader and an engineer? Well, I am a total geek and proud to be! I read science magazines and Star Wars books. I love electronics and when someone on the cheer team has trouble with something electronic, they always come to me! They tease me about it but always in a good spirit.
Apart from work and cheering, what are some of your favorite activities?
I love reading, especially sci-fi books like Star Wars books, the Sookie Stackhouse novels and also crime and police novels. I also love watching TV shows. My favorite comedy would have to be “The Big Bang Theory.” And my favorite dramas are “Fringe” and “The Vampire Diaries.”
What are your plans for the future?
For family life, I would like to have a family soon. For the work life, I am aiming to be a project manager in the next 5-10 years.
Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
I think it is important to show that you can do and be whatever you want when you put your mind to it.