Vanessa Li

Vanessa Li

Process Leader, Novelis


Judy Tamir
Erin Gately
Amelia Hedblom
Sarah Iddles
Priscilla Bennett
Andromeda DuMont
Sissy Nikolaou
Linh Truong
Mayra Artiles
Stephanie Cheung
Vanithashrree Raja
Christina Castillo
Close Up
  • What I Do

    I am a Process Leader with Novelis Aluminum Inc at the Terre Haute, Indiana facility. I am responsible for process, product and quality of our sheet rolled aluminum products.

  • Why Engineering?

    I love chemistry and physics! Ever since I can remember, I loved watching chemical reactions. I felt the mysterious solar system very fascinating. I enjoyed hands-on chemistry and physics lab sessions


  • School Days
    • I went to an all-girls school in Hong Kong established by the Anglican Church in 1906. There were a lot of emphasis on music education and home economics. I took piano and flute. Needlework and cooking lessons are mandatory.
    • I left Hong Kong at age 16 and went to a boarding school in Monterey Bay, California for my last 2 years of high school.
    • While I studied in University of Illinois, I joined a research team led by graduate students. I received my undergraduate degree in Materials Science and Engineering - Metallurgy.
    • While working full time, I took MBA courses from Indiana University.
  • My Day At Work

    Over the course of my career, I have been involved with process and quality. These are some of my past and current responsibilities:

    • Improve productivity through data analysis and reviewing trend, 
    • Resolve customer claims, ensure product meets customer applications
    • New product qualification, recommend solutions to customer through product applications and designs
    • Reduce defect and salvaging of defective products, improve inspection method and define product release criteria
    • Mechanical and chemical testing data analysis, ensure consistency in testing
  • Best Part

    My job involves hands-on tasks such as chemical and mechanical testing in lab, inspection of products, process improvement, traveling to customer sites for service and product support etc.

  • Proud Moments

    I feel proud when children show an interest in my STEM demo during outreach events. Little by little, I spark their interest. Even if they decide not to pursue STEM later in their life, it is still a good way for them learn more about their passion. One will never know what he/she likes or don’t like to do until they are exposed to it. This learning opportunity is very valuable.

    I also feel proud when I host international students. Being in their shoes before, I understand the importance of helping students transitioning to a new living environment. ​​

  • Challenges

    The challenge I faced while studying in the U.S. is that Americans are much better at marketing and presenting themselves. Students are not afraid to ask questions or even challenge the teachers. I sometimes doubt my potential, thinking that I am simply not as smart as them. My family focused heavily on Chinese philosophy and beliefs. I was taught to be humble since “There is always a mountain higher than this one.” I later learned that this did not help me demonstrate confidence in the workplace. I learned by observing others and realized that they simply feel comfortable expressing their idea. I then learned how to share my ideas with others and showed my confidence without being arrogant. It was simply a cultural difference and not a difference in intelligence. 

  • Dreams and Goals

    Career: I like working in manufacturing environment. My long-term goal is to become a director in product development and/or process technology.

    Personal: I am still looking for the special someone of my life. I would like to have my own family someday.

  • Want to be an Engineer?

    Study hard while in college (yes, I spent lots of time in the library studying because there were a lot of smart kids around me.)

    Self-confident is important. I questioned why boys are better than girls in math and science. I was determined to disprove that. Remember, if I can STEM, so can you.

  • Hobbies

    Audiobook, travel, trying out different restaurants, sewing, Zumba, piano, Cessna 172, visiting museums, exploring a new town etc​.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: BS. Materials Science and Engineering - Metallurgy; Indiana University at Bloomington: MBA
Volunteer Opportunities
  • 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 host a field trip to my place of employment.
  • I am willing to be contacted about potential job shadowing by interested students.