Mayra Artiles

Mayra S Artiles

Thermal Engineer for Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Ford Motor Company
Canton, MI, United States
Mayra Artiles
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I remember the first time I stepped into the Kennedy Space Center at age 5 - they day I chose to become an engineer. Once I began my college degree at the University of Puerto Rico I was overwhelmed by the many industries in which I could apply my career choice. I slowly started testing and volunteering in different student projects such as robotics, Formula SAE, research assistantships, even internships in automotive companies. Nonetheless I still needed more direction and once I was done with my undergraduate I went for my master's degree on a full scholarship at Purdue University. While at Purdue I had the opportunity to work on some ground breaking research in nanoscale transport. This pretty much cleared it up for that I wanted to be a thermal engineer. So when Ford Motor Company offered me a position doing just that for their hybrid programs there was no way I could say no.
Purdue University, 2012, Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez, 2009, Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as a sponsor or coach for an engineering club or team.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to be contacted about potential job shadowing by interested students.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Mayra S Artiles

Hi Kayla!

When recruiters look at which candidate will be the best to hire, GPA is only a small fraction of what we discuss. In my experience, 99% of the time recruiters focus more on the projects the student has been involved in, such as SAE competitions, internship experiences, student chapters, community involvement, etc. Showing you are involved in those type of activities will get you a foot in the door to an interview. A 3.2 GPA is acceptable in most companies as the threshold GPA is typically 3.0. The rest is all about giving a GREAT interview that your recruiter will remember at the end of the day. Most interviews for students are standard behavioral questions which are often a variation on those easily available online. Study them and work on great answers based on your own experiences.

A great resource for you as a Hispanic would be joining your school’s SHPE chapter (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers). They provide excellent networking and professional development opportunities with many companies that are hiring Hispanic students just like you. 

As for thriving in a male-dominated career like M.E., it has more to do with how much will you commit to your job than your gender. It is important that you enjoy what your job will be and the team you work with. This will always make you want to pursue excellence and desire to do your job well. I also always encourage using data to back up your conclusions. Rarely do we run into situations where people will use gender bias to question your judgement when you have good data to back up your claims. Gender does not play as much a role in engineering careers in the 21st century than it used to not so long ago. But regardless of how the environment is, it will make you a better engineer back up your assumptions and conclusions with good data.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

For the particular case of thermal engineer you want to have a background in mechanical engineering (preferrable from an ABET accredited school). Make sure to take as many courses as possible in thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics (these are usually required anyways). Thermal sciences are typically linked with refrigeration systems so studies in that topic is certainly a plus! Finally, I would recommend anyone trying to enter this field to pursue a master's degree. Thermal sciences can be abstract and there is only so much an undergraduate degree can teach you, taking graduate courses in the topic can go a long way in helping you become a better engineer in this field. The nice thing about this field is that there aren't that many engineers in it right now (temperatures and energy isn't everyone's cup of tea) but a lot of jobs are starting to be created in this field so the more the merrier!

Hi Nazli! Automotive engineering is a very large field with a lot of different possibilities. You can work in very broad topics like setting targets for vehicle dynamics and performance to something more specific like the design of a single component, for example, a spark plug or wheel. Even our interiors get specific engineers for the seats, door trim surfaces, and even your cupholders! Pretty much for every part of a vehicle there is an engineer that specializes in it and for every group or subsystem of parts that work together (like an engine or a transmission) there is a whole team that works specifically to ensure that this group works appropiately and meet their design intent. As for the difficulties of this job for a girl it really depends on the culture of your workplace. In my experience I have never had any issues where I was not taken seriously or my opinion was undermined for being a girl. Yes, it is mainly a male dominated career but I see with the younger engineers beginning their careers that the gender gap every year is less and less. My biggest problem as a girl is deciding what days can I wear a skirt or pants (you can't wear skirts in some labs and plants)! I hope this answers your question. Make sure to ask any more you may have. 

Hi Kristin!
I work as an mechanical/automotive engineer so my lab is my test car. I work programming different softwares into the engine control and recording how the vehicles performs. Most of my projects require me to drive the vehicle in order to find the correct scenarios the customer would encounter on a daily basis so I spend a lot of my time driving outside! I do ocassionally spend time in labs especially if I'm trying to recreate a specific weather scenario that isn't going (such as testing for winter in the summer or the other way around) but most of the time I just work outside. As for working with other people, in all of the engineering jobs I've had the tasks have to be interactive. I've found it is quite difficult to design, build, and test something succesfully without having a team who can help you cover all the bases. Successful engineering 99% of the time comes from teamwork.