Q+A with Janet Gbur

In December of 2015, International Women and Girls Day in Science was established to recognize the critical role women and girls play in science and technology. To celebrate, the Case School of Engineering is sharing stories of remarkable women across the quad from students to faculty. Learn about their research, their journey to engineering and the advice they have for other women. 

Janet Gbur

Research Assistant Professor
Materials Science and Engineering

Provide a short description of your research area.

My work is at the intersection of materials engineering, mechanical engineering, and medical devices. I look at the reliability of materials used for biomedical applications and also work with groups developing technologies for Veteran rehabilitation at the Advanced Platform Technology Center at the Cleveland VA.

Why did you pursue engineering as a career?

I was looking for a balance between my love for art and science; engineering is a perfect fit. Some aspects of engineering benefit from the ability to visualize an idea or a data set, and my drawing background helps to translate ideas into SolidWorks or Illustrator for prototyping or presentations, respectively. I wanted to find a field where I could still use my creativity, artistic eye, and build things to help others.

What is your favorite or the most meaningful thing about being an engineer?

For me, it is a tie between working on a multi-disciplinary team to develop and translate new technologies for rehabilitation and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Were there women in STEM who came before you who helped influence you to pursue this field? If so, who were they and how did they impact you?

I did not have women mentors representing my field(s) of interest until very late in my college career. I grew up in drag racing, and from the time I could hold a wrench, I was helping my dad with the race car. In my teens, my dad and I fixed up a car for me to drive - with the understanding that I did most of the work. So, practical mechanical skills were part of daily life. The first woman STEM mentor was my masters thesis advisor at Youngstown State University, Professor Hazel Marie. She provided the framework for me to be successful and enthusiastically supported my interests in research and teaching so that I could continue at CWRU for my PhD.

What is your best advice for your women pursuing a career in engineering?

Build your network and a supportive team of mentors. Remember, your inner professional circle is dynamic and will continue to evolve as you do.

Find life-balance while your are a student and continue that into your career. Engineering, ultimately, is for the betterment of the public, its safety and well-being whether you are designing, testing, or manufacturing something, or contribute somewhere along the supply chain. If you are at your best, you will be providing your best as an engineer. Find the things that help you to balance life - music, crafts, sports, outdoors, reading, meditating, etc. What helps you re-energize and find your center? I love to be on the water - kayak, swim, snowmobile, or ski (Holiday Valley Winter Carnival picture included), those are my moments of zen.