Synergi’s Jeannette Watson Speaks To Her Experience On Women In Engineering Day
Synergi would like to honor International Women In Engineering Day with an interview from one of our very own, Jeannette Watson!
According to the INWED (International Women In Engineering Day) platform, just 16.5% of engineers are women. While female engineers’ efforts should be recognized and appreciated on a regular basis, June 23rd provides an opportunity to highlight their excellence and shine a light on the work they deliver across a broad range of industries. The aim is to create clear role models for future generations of engineers.
This year, Synergi would like to honor International Women In Engineering Day with an interview from one of our very own, Jeannette Watson!
YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER AS A CNC PROGRAMMER AND TECHNICIAN AFTER EARNING YOUR BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS DEGREE IN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN FROM THE MILWAUKEE INSTITUTE OF ARTS & DESIGN, AND CERTIFICATE OF PRODUCT DESIGN AS AN EXCHANGE STUDENT AT L’ECOLE DE DESIGN NANTES ATLANTIQUE. WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN ENGINEERING? COULD YOU DESCRIBE THE MOMENT YOU REALIZED THIS WAS A FIELD YOU’D LIKE TO PURSUE?
What drew me towards engineering was the first time I walked into the fabrication lab at my college. My favorite course at school was Methods and Materials, during my sophomore year, where we were taught many different systems of material manipulation and encouraged to test the limits. My college experience taught me geometry, algebra, physics, and chemistry in a new way that traditional schooling was not able to captivate my attention. With hands-on learning, I learned that the field of Industrial Design is the merging of Engineering and Arts, the link that merges the two together to assist turning an idea, to a sketch, and into reality.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST JOB. WHAT DID YOU LEARN THERE THAT YOU COULDN’T HAVE LEARNED IN THE CLASSROOM?
My first engineering related job was at Kehoe Designs, the largest event design company in Chicago. I was working in the Arts Department when an internal opportunity to apply for the CNC Programmer and Technician position was available. Having no experience with the CNC and a curiosity for materials and methods, they took a chance on me and gave me the freedom to challenge myself. I taught myself how to use the CNC machine and pushed the limits on what this tool could do. Once I had become intimately familiar with the CNC and programming, I kept wanting to expand my abilities with larger tools.
“To the women who are interested in design and engineering, learn to get uncomfortable. Discomfort is what helps growth more than anything else.”
YOU’VE NOW BEEN AT SYNERGI FOR FOUR MONTHS. CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKING IN ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN AND 3D MODELING WITHIN SYNERGI’S ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT?
Working at Synergi and in the Engineering Department has been fun and collaborative. I get to have direct communication with my peers in Engineering where we help each other out with different problem solving experiences. We’re all fascinated with how to put things together, whether it’s figuring out all of the pieces needed to build a stair, or how to manipulate a coded system to model a form in a 3D software. It’s as if we’re all playing chess on different boards and helping each other win the game. There is a strong participatory spirit in each of us in the Engineering team brings to the company.
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE TO A WOMAN THINKING OF STARTING A CAREER IN ENGINEERING? WHAT KINDS OF PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE SHOULD THEY HAVE? WHAT TECHNICAL SKILLS SHOULD THEY PICK UP?
To the women who are interested in design and engineering, learn to get uncomfortable. Discomfort is what helps growth more than anything else. Ask what seems like stupid questions, intentionally walk into rooms where you might feel like you’ve got the least to contribute to. Makes mistakes and open yourself to creative criticism. Take on the project that seems like a challenge. Test your abilities because the next time you try it again, it will feel easier than the last time.
As for practical experience, I recommend taking as many introductory courses to figure out what type of engineering and design direction a person would want to pursue. Whether it’s online Youtube tutorials for 3D modeling, community college courses for intro to CNC machining, free welding training programs at local vocational organizations, or the like. There are many inexpensive and free learning tools available to help push your learning in the direction you want to go. Everyone starts somewhere, learn from experience and with time and persistence the growth will manifest.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT MORE WOMEN TAKE UP ENGINEERING?
A more diversified engineering team generates more innovative, creative and inclusive approach to design systems. The phrase “Behind every great man is a great woman…” acknowledges that throughout history women have contributed to the design and construction of our fabric of life. Though in our modern day, it is important for women to become more visible with their ideas, participate in the decisions that build on our futures, and contribute more platforms to elevate women in.