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International Women in Engineering Day – Ashley Smale

International Women in Engineering Day 2022

International Women in Engineering Day is celebrated annually on June 23rd, to raise women’s profile in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry. By shining a light on the women in engineering throughout the world, it gives us a chance to celebrate outstanding achievements across this industry.

Whilst we’re always looking to champion outstanding people in the engineering space, this day is an ideal opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements in engineering, raise awareness about the types of careers available, and share stories of inspiring women.

Figures as of June 2021 showed that 16.5% of engineers are women, this is a 25.7% increase in women in engineering occupations since 2016.

For this IWED, join us in celebrating just some of the inspirational women in our community and the empowering work they do for women everywhere.

Ashley Smale

Program Manager, Regal Rexnord

Currently, Ashley is transitioning from one role to another inside Regal Rexnord. Ashley was the Manager of Engineering Projects – Automation for their Energy (coupling products) sector and is now moving to become the Program Manager for the new Industrial Powertrain team.

“I feel a responsibility to the younger generation of women to show them that you can not only participate but you can lead in this field that is still dominated by men.”

Where did your initial interest in Engineering start?

”I found engineering while searching for a career towards the end of high school. I always enjoyed solving problems usually in my Math or Science classes, and while talking to my dad about my options (who is a software engineer himself), I narrowed in on becoming a mechanical engineer due to the breadth of options that discipline offers.”

Please share with us a bit about your background and how you ended up in your current role…

”I began my career with Regal Rexnord back in 2011 in Auburn, AL, when I decided to enter my college’s co-operative education program, similar to a long-term internship. I held various engineering intern roles through 2015 when I graduated and was offered a Design Engineer position on the engineering team full-time with the requirement to move to Milwaukee, WI.

Over the next 3 years, my managers pushed me to try all sorts of different roles inside the team including project management. I had a particular affinity for that one and so I took on most of the complex projects that came through the team, including the first directive to reduce our global CAD systems from 8 down to 1 (SOLIDWORKS).

In 2018, I led the first DriveWorks project we executed to build our framework and first product, and then increased scope to leading the global program to migrate to SOLIDWORKS via DriveWorks automation. Over time, I was asked to execute additional automation programs under my leadership and became the Manager of Engineering Projects – Automation, and as of today, we have 7 programs running simultaneously for a variety of customer-facing and internal automation tool types.”

Can you tell us about some of the exciting things you get to work on in your role?

”In my role as the Manager of Engineering Projects, I get to mould many aspects of the way our Engineering department works with other departments inside Regal Rexnord, as well as how we interact with our customers.

I personally have been able to affect positive change by taking my internship experience on the shop floor, hearing about how the drawings could be clearer and cleaner and was able to set the standards for how we create better drawings in SOLIDWORKS using DriveWorks.

For me, the most exciting part of this position is being able to launch a tool to a customer, whether internal or external to the company and hearing how that tool helps them do their daily work even a bit easier than it was before.”

How has the role of women in engineering changed over the course of your education and career?

”I am still early in my career, 10 years in. That said, I feel there are more women getting into the field now than ever before, and I am seeing more confidence in those that step up into these roles. We still have a large gap to bridge, but I hope to have good news to report here in another 5 or 10 years.”

Why is being in engineering important to you?

”It is critical that all professions have diversity, including engineering. I feel a responsibility to the younger generation of women to show them that you can not only participate but you can lead in this field that is still dominated by men.”

What advice would you give any young woman considering an education and career in engineering?

”Keep going and have confidence that you can do it.”

Who has been your inspiration?

”I have been inspired by many people, but most of all by my first full-time manager, Sundar. He was the kind of manager that you could bounce any idea off of and he would kindly listen, provide guiding feedback, and help you come to a great conclusion while keeping the atmosphere collaborative. He showed me another way of leading people than I had seen to that point in my life, and it sparked my wish to do the same for others.”

What do you want people to remember about you?

”That I was able to make a meaningful impact on the people I work with, the processes I improve, and to a lesser extent, the world that we share.”

How do you balance work/life responsibility?

”Carefully! As a new mother to an energetic, 9-month-old, I do quite a lot of balancing these days. Primarily, I am very lucky to have a spouse that has flexibility in his working hours so that we can share the responsibility of raising our son. My company has also been very supportive of me continuing to work from home during this period and allowing me to work flexible hours to keep all things running smoothly, personally and professionally.”

Do you have a support network?

”Yes, I am surrounded by great individuals in my professional space and in my personal space. This is something that is very important to cultivate although it can be difficult to find the time.”

It is great to hear from Ashley she has been encouraged to explore as many opportunities as possible to give her the chance to find a career path she would like to take, and ultimately, excel in.

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Join us as we continue celebrating more women in engineering.