By Kirby Davis, For The Miami Student

The best way to get Emma Langer to do something is to tell her not to.

“That’s how my parents get me to do the dishes and other chores,” she said. “I still haven’t learned my lesson.”

So when her high school physics teacher advised her not to pursue engineering in college, Emma’s resolve only intensified.

“It didn’t really hurt me. I wanted to come back after first semester and be like, ‘I did better than you thought I would,’” she said.

Her interest in engineering was sparked when she was 4-years-old. Emma had naively thought she could construct a computer out of paper and Scotch tape. Her mom still keeps it in a box with other projects and old photos.

Emma preferred to build her own toys as a kid, rather than buy them. She’s always enjoyed dissecting everyday objects to see if she could piece them back together.

“It was less about me building things,” Emma said. “I just had an interest in how things worked, and if I couldn’t figure something out I’d end up taking it apart.”

Last year she launched her biggest project yet — a full-sized bed. She found that the experience was a chance to explore her creative side and was a welcome distraction from her recent breakup.

Now, Emma feels cautiously optimistic as a mechanical engineering major. Several of her friends have dropped the program due to its difficulty, but she’s determined to stick with it.

“I haven’t stopped liking what I’m learning,” Emma said. “I think for every time where there’s a moment I want to drop out, there’s another moment that’s like, ‘this is what I love.’ As long as they’re balanced I feel pretty good.”