More than 7,000 women from around the world are coming together in Los Angeles this week for the 16th International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists. Dr. Kong-Joo Lee, President, International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists, says the goal of the society is “to build a better future worldwide, through the full and effective participation of women and girls in all aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).”
To celebrate women in engineering, we interviewed Linda White, Quality Engineer at Lampin Corporation. In the interview, White comments that, even though she is a minority in her field, she feels the challenges she’s faced in her career are the same as those faced by any engineer, male or female.
Q: Was there a definitive moment in your life that steered you toward a career in engineering?
A: I’ve always wanted to know “how things work” and was good at math and science, so engineering seemed like the logical choice.
Q: What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbies or Lincoln logs? Or something else entirely?
A: My favorite toys were Breyer model horses. I made barns, saddles and bridles for them from whatever materials I could find around the house.
Q: Why did you choose Electronic Engineering as your field of choice?
A: I had a particular interest in music, sound, and the recording industry. I wanted to know how electronics worked when it came to signal analysis and recording/sound applications. Things just progressed naturally from there.
Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about being an engineer?
A: I have the opportunity to be an innovator. I enjoy problem solving and working with the team on continuous improvements to enhance production efficiencies.
Q: As a quality engineer, what do you do?
A: On the “quality” side I lead Lampin’s conformance efforts for the ISO9001 Quality Assurance program. This involves internal audits, creating procedures and work instructions, document control, supply chain conformance, maintaining calibration status of inspection and test equipment, and tracking and monitoring quality metrics to identify opportunities for improvement. I am Lampin’s public voice on all relevant quality performance needs.
On the “engineering” side, I assist with quotations for new products, review customer drawings for adequacy and completeness and ensure the shop floor has the information they need to manufacture customer orders.
Q: Would you like to recognize any mentors or inspirations that helped you reach the position you enjoy today? How did they help?
A: My mentor was Lee Kellett, the former Quality Manager at the company I worked at when I graduated from college. At the time, Lee was the only woman in management at the company and she took me under her wing. She created a new “Quality Engineer” position for me to assist her with obtaining our first ISO9001 certification. With Lee’s guidance I learned the ISO standard and everything related to quality management systems, and later went on to become the Quality Manager at the company.
Q: Do you have any advice for other aspiring female engineers?
A: If you are interested in “how things work” and are proficient in science and math, engineering is a field with many opportunities for women. I recommend taking advantage of any co-op or internship programs your school may have. They are an excellent way to get exposure to different industries and job functions without a long-term commitment. And if the “fit” is right, co-op and internship positions can often lead to full-time employment after graduation.