June 15, 2010Her job: SVP Product & Partner Development, Honk
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I work with engineers and product experts to develop consumer facing websites.
Why did you choose engineering?
When I was in high school, I got an internship at Ford Motor Company and I loved it. I always knew I liked math and science, but thought I would study medicine or biology. I was surprised to find out that I was more interested in engineering. My family and the people I worked with encouraged me to become and engineer and also helped me find an amazing scholarship opportunity.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering and MS in Electrical/Mechanical Engineering (Automotive Program).
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
I have worked in many different areas. I started off in research, so I was mostly doing computer simulations and neural networks to predict what would happen in real life. My next job was in product development where I worked on designing actual cars (engines and suspension systems). Then I got more into the technology/electrical side of engineering and built GPS tracking systems, websites, software, and electrical communication systems. I spent a few years working on developing future product concepts and thinking through business strategies. Now, I have my own business.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
Engineering teaches you how to break things down and solve problems. With my background in engineering, I am fearless...I feel like I can learn anything I put my mind to.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
That's a tough question...I always feel like I could be doing more or doing a better job. I guess I am proudest when I can point to a product or part of a product and say "I was part of that".
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
I am bubbly and charismatic, so most people underestimate what I can do. There have been many situations where I have worked harder than everyone else in order to get the respect of doubters.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I have the most wonderful family in the world. I am very close to my parents and my younger brother.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
In the short term, I am working hard on growing my business, but eventually, I would like to develop toys and games to encourage girls to learn math and science at a very young age.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My family. There are no two people on earth that I look up to more than my parents. They have given me the intelligence, courage, and strength to do anything I set my mind to. My brother has also been a huge influence. One day when I came home upset from my summer job and complained that I didn't understand how engines worked, he bought me an 4.6L Crown Victoria engine and spent all summer taking it apart and teaching me everything he knew. That act of kindness changed my life.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
1) You can do it if you work hard enough- don't ever give up.
2) There will come a day when you "get it" and everything is different- that day comes at different times for different people, be patient.
3) It is the best career decision you could ever make- once you have your degree, you can pretty much do any job you want.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I love being outside, watching sports, and spending time with family and friends. I will read any psychology book you put in front of me and have been helping my Mom start her own business.