International Women in Engineering Day

Posted on June 10, 2021

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At Avanti, we are incredibly proud of our women engineers. In order to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day on June 23rd, we spoke to a couple of our own women engineers to find out about their current projects and what inspired them to choose this rewarding career path!

We interviewed Ileana Machado, Sr. QA Process Engineer, and Molly Richardson, QA Process Engineer I.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

Ileana: My father was my inspiration to become an engineer. I was his helper and he developed in me the “hands-on” work. He was my first teacher/supervisor when I learned how to install receptacles and ceiling lamps.

Molly: I always enjoyed math and science as a kid. Additionally, many members of my family are in various engineering fields. Because of this, I followed a math/science track through high school and college. This eventually led to my becoming an engineer!

Tell us a little more about your role as an engineer at Avanti.

Ileana: What does an average day look like? I’m in charge of the process validations and support the generation and approval of deviations. An average day is to check what deviations have to be moved/approved to release batches. Also, lots of conversations with manufacturing to discuss processes and changes.

Molly: I recently transitioned into my Process Engineering role, so I am still in training for many of my job tasks. However, right now my average day revolves around the various tasks associated with Avanti’s current process validation efforts.

What do find most interesting about your role as an engineer?

Ileana: For many years, I was a manufacturing engineer. I can be emphatic to the situation, but I also know things can be done better. Engineers have to always have several plans and options.

Molly: In my current role, I have found learning more about Avanti’s processes very interesting.

What do you like most about the field of engineering as a whole?

Ileana: Engineering gives you a lot of opportunities in different areas. We might be in the “backstage” of the action, but we make the action happens.

Molly: Through my role at Avanti and in my engineering co-ops during school, I have always loved that no two days are exactly the same. I really enjoy the problem-solving aspects of working as an engineer.

What personal qualities or characteristics do you possess that help you as an engineer?

Ileana: I’m data-driven, curious by nature. I do understand that sometimes plan A not always work, but tell me the whole story, and we will find a plan B that works. Years in the industry have taught me to work under pressure but keep laughing.

Molly: I think that my interest in continual learning has been the most helpful to me so far. There are many aspects of engineering work (in all engineering fields) that can’t be taught in a textbook. Having a continued interest in education and skill-building are essential to all engineers throughout the lifecycle of their careers.

As an engineer, school and work have likely consumed much of your life. What do you like to do outside of work to destress and take your mind off of everything?

Ileana: Thanks to the pandemic, I self-taught how to sew… I sewed all my facemasks. I’m also doing a quilt. I love to take care of my house plants; they are survivors. I read a lot of news from my country. Sometimes I know more than my friends/family about what is happening there.

Molly: I am currently working to renovate my house, so I have done a lot of DIY projects over the past year in my free time!

The following statistic is from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2021: Women are nearly half of the U.S. workforce, but only 27% of STEM workers. What would you say to women looking to enter a historically male-dominated engineering field?

Ileana: Go for it! Jobs don’t have gender. If you have curiosity, if you like math and science, technology, and like to think out of the box, enroll in the engineering school. Don’t be afraid that there are more men than women in the classroom. As a matter of fact, in Puerto Rico, last year more women than men were enrolled in the chemical engineer program.

Molly: One of the most important lessons for women in STEM is to learn to trust your instincts and opinions. This is a lesson that I am still learning, but believe is important for women working in a male-dominated field.

What do you think could or should be done to increase the number of women who become engineers?

Ileana: We have to go to schools with good role models; women that have made great contributions to society and have broken the gender paradigms. Did you know that the person who directs the simulation team to make the Hendrick Motorsports Nascar car faster, is a female Puerto Rican mechanical engineer? Eng. Alba Colón. And if there is a field dominated by men, it is car racing and mechanical engineers.

Molly: I don’t believe that the number of women who are interested in engineering (or STEM) in general is any less than the number of men who are interested in these fields. However, parents and teachers need to work to foster these interests in young girls the same way that they foster them in young boys. Encouraging these interests from the start allows young women the agency to follow their interests into STEM fields.

A huge "Thank You" to Ileana and Molly for taking the time to give us some great insight and representing female engineers so well!