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Originally published April 27, 2011 at 10:01 PM | Page modified April 27, 2011 at 10:52 PM

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A magical ride, and hard work, for a Hong Kong girl

Carrie Shiu dreamed about building airplanes while growing up under the flight path in Hong Kong and watching planes roar above her family's apartment.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes Our country is fortunate that talented people like Ms. Shiu can come here to make our... Read more

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Carrie Shiu dreamed about building airplanes while growing up under the flight path in Hong Kong and watching planes roar above her family's apartment.

Though her teachers didn't think a girl could ever achieve anything so ambitious, the 38-year-old Shiu is now a lead design engineer at Boeing. She received the 2011 most-promising-engineer award at the Asian-American Engineer of the Year awards banquet in Seattle.

"It's a confirmation that, yes, I can achieve my dream," said Shiu, who went to Kansas in 1991 as a college student and now lives in Bothell with her husband and two kids.

Her parents ran a toy factory in Hong Kong, and Shiu attended an all-girls public school where her classmates were mostly interested in fashion or entertainment.

When she wanted to study precalculus, Shiu said, her teacher tried to dissuade her. "My mom asked the teacher, 'Is this something my daughter wants? Does she have the grades? Then why can't you let her do that?' "

Working on airplanes is "somehow magical to me," said Shiu. "For me, if I didn't work for Boeing, I'd work for an airline so I could be on an airplane all the time."

For the next generation of Americans to excel in science and engineering, she said, "we have to make kids interested."

Realizing that girls may approach science and technology differently from how boys do, "we need to fine-tune a little bit to adjust for the girls' way of learning and boys' way of learning," she said, "and find that balance."

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