Rachel Rothman

Current Position: Director of the Engineering Lab at Good Housekeeping
April 20, 2011Her job: Senior Test Engineer, Good Housekeeping
Describe what you do in your current work situation? I evaluate consumer electronics, toys, video games, home improvement products, and automobiles for Good Housekeeping. I test performance metrics on products such as tablets, laptops, TVs, fuel-efficient cars, smartphones, and toilets - for both inclusion editorially in the magazine, as well as for the prestigious Good Housekeeping Seal.
Why did you choose engineering? I have always been a math and science aficionada. I much preferred building with Legos than Barbies, and nothing calms me down better than a fiendish game of Sudoku or Kakuro! And since I loved building things with my own two hands, it seemed fitting to study the practical application of the sciences.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? I attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and received a BSE in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics and a minor in Mathematics.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? The great thing about my job is that the day to day never becomes rote - there is no "typical." One week I am testing the latest tablets on the market - the next I'm behind the wheel of the latest electric vehicle. I get to perform mundane tests like timing the boot-up of a laptop, but also fun tests like dropping toys from the drop tester and abrading paint chips to test durability. I also have the opportunity to step outside the normal confines of engineering and be a part of photo and video shoots.
What do you like best about being an engineer? My favorite part about being an engineer is being around other stimulating engineers. As an engineer, you take in your environment in a way that another wouldn't - with a keen eye for construction and innovation.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? Engineers often get the bad reputation of being socially awkward (OK, sometimes we can be!) - so appearing on live TV on MSN was really a career high for me.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career? The first engineering class I went in to, the professor came up to me trying to be nice and said he would help direct me to my proper classroom. While inroads have definitely been made for women in engineering, there are still hurdles. I have fought hard to be respected in the male-dominated field of engineering and tech- something that time and experience will help strengthen.
Please tell us a little about your family. Even if I had known about this job growing up, I couldn't have been better prepped. My family operates a consumer electronics distribution business, and dinner talk frequently consisted of 20-30 SKUs being shouted across the table! I come from the most loving and supporting family, and because of them I am able to be the professional I am today. My mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were all ahead of their time, and I can only hope to be a trailblazer as they were for the women of their generations.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? While it sounds cliche - my mother and grandmother are my greatest influences. My mom is definitely right-brained, and having a daughter pursue engineering may have baffled her at first, but she was nothing but supportive.