Vanessa Li

Vanessa Li

Process Leader, Novelis

Engineers!

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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​.

Education
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.