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Facing Arizona: A father-daughter day at an engineering conference

(Thomas Yoxall/Sure Shot Photography)

Editor’s note: Facing Arizona is a series that will appear on KTAR.com and social media  — follow KTAR News on Instagram and Facebook for updates — highlighting unique and everyday people across our state and give you a glimpse into their lives.

My name is Brad Kraay, and I am here at the Wigwam to attend The Society of Military Engineers Conference, with an emphasis on women-owned small business.

I have brought my 11-year-old daughter, Xylia, who is out of school for the summer and has a great interest in building things. If it involves designing, creating things, figuring out how and why something works, and inventing things, she is all about it. It just worked out that this is what her dad does for a living professionally.

I felt it was an excellent opportunity for her to come with me and to hear from other women in the industry and in the different fields of engineering. This gives her a chance to see what is out there for her when she grows up and will help her choose a career path. Whether that be mechanical engineering, architectural engineering, or design engineering. So yeah, I thought it was a great way to spend time with my daughter as well as give her a fantastic opportunity to learn firsthand from other women who have succeeded in the industry.

She takes things very seriously when it comes to her academics and these fields. I think it’s great that she is so involved and wanted to be here, out where the action is at, with me, learning, instead of staying at home and texting on her iPhone with friends. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, it is summer time, but I think it’s terrific that she wants to be productive and learning as well. This is a one-day event, and some portions are pertinent to what I do for work, but this, the small businesses owned by women segment, is the main reason we are here. —Brad

Xylia: “My name is Xylia, and that is a Greek word, and it translates to ‘from the woods.’ I am excited to be here with my dad. Ever since my mom and my dad pointed out to me that I should be an engineer because I love Legos, I’ve wanted to be a mechanical engineer. You know, build some robots and other geeky things. I embrace my nerdy and geeky side. I’m hoping to meet some grown-up women so I can ask them how they made it and what was the hardest thing for them. Plus, it’s nice to see that other girls are like me, so I don’t feel like I’m the only one. Spending time with my dad is pretty cool too.”

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