August 21, 2007Her job: Director, Electronics R&D, Praxair
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am a Director of R&D for a fortune 500 company. I am responsible for the identification, development and commercialization of new products to be used for the electronics industry. Basically, my team designs and develops chemicals and materials to make cell phones, computer chips and flat panel screens.
Why did you choose engineering?
I choose a degree in chemistry because of my love of science and math. Since moving on into industry I have been drawn to the application of chemistry, ie. materials development.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I went to two State University of New York Schools, for my B.S. in Chemistry I went to Fredonia and for my Ph.D. in Chemistry I went to the University of Buffalo.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
I started in the laboratory designing experiments and reporting out the results. I moved to a more customer focussed position where I led a demonstration project at the customer site. More recently, I manage people that are doing the above activities.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
I love creating new things and seeing them put to use. To know that I was involved in making materials that are used in flat panel display televisions and high brightness LEDs is really cool. I also get to interact with many bright people on a regular basis.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
I am proud to have earned my Ph.D., I am also proud to be a patent holder.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I have four small children, age 1, 4, 6, and 8 and a wonderful husband. My husbands job does not require him to travel which is a blessing because I travel quite extensively. My children are all happy and healthy.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
I am currently focussed on increasing the customer activity and the number of joint colloboration programs. I am also focussed on helping my company to have a greater presence in Asia. Once I make a big enough difference in this job, I would like to broaden my background and learn more about a different industry that my company serves.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My teachers in high school and undergraduate school have had the greatest influence on my career choices.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
If you have any interest in engineering, you should talk to other people that are currently in the profession to help you better understand what being an engineer means. If you want to do it, I am sure you will succeed. Don't be worry about the cost of education, there are more funding sources then you are probably aware of. Also, try to pick a top engineering school to go to, it matters more than you think.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I really enjoy the outdoors, my family camps every opportunity we get. I also am a christian and enjoy reading christian fiction books and listening to christian music (Rebecca St. James is one of my favorites).