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International Women in Engineering Day – Colleen Coble

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.

Colleen Coble

Colleen is an Enterprise Services Specialist at Hawk Ridge Systems. In this role, she focuses mainly on DriveWorks projects for their customers. Colleen graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Applied Engineering.

Prior to her current role, Colleen worked as an Application Engineer and then the Design on Demand Lead at DesignPoint, before it was acquired by Hawk Ridge in 2021.

Colleen explains how she ended up in her current role at Hawk Ridge and how she has noticed a positive change happening regarding women in engineering careers.

“Find mentors that will guide you and don’t underestimate what you might learn from others outside of your department/field. As you learn – don’t be afraid to share your own knowledge.”

Where did your initial interest in Engineering start?

”When I was young, I found myself drawn to Legos and building blocks. I was always meticulous with how I put them together – lots of symmetry! As I got older, I found myself drawn to a combination of art, math, and science classes, but I didn’t begin to learn more about engineering until college.

I began college as a biology major and just felt like something was missing – I wasn’t getting to satisfy my creative side! I decided to take a course that allowed me to explore many different career options and became incredibly interested in a career in engineering. I found the perfect program at Millersville University, where I ultimately gained my degree.”

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

”After college, I began my career at a thermoforming company where I designed medical packaging and the tooling to manufacture the packaging. I saw projects all the way through from design to production.

After a couple of years, I decided I wanted to move closer to home. DesignPoint was a company that I always admired. As a customer, going to the More Is Possible events (the yearly SOLIDWORKS rollout) I would see the employees giving presentations and felt drawn to be a part of an amazing team like them.

I went through a few rounds of interviews and ultimately was hired back in 2018 to initially assist with design projects – one of which was a thermoforming project, so it was a smooth transition from my previous role. Only a few weeks in I was asked if I had ever heard about DriveWorks – it was completely new to me, but as it was described to me I only wanted to learn more.

I was asked to deliver training about a month into my role, so I had to learn DriveWorks quick! Following the training, I delivered my first DriveWorks project implementation for that same customer. Recently, in December of 2021, DesignPoint was acquired by Hawk Ridge Systems. At that point, I was asked to join the Enterprise Services Team where I would be responsible for the delivery of DriveWorks services. This role has given me the opportunity to expand my skillset even further with DriveWorks!”

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

”In my role, I’ve seen a number of different product types! Anything from systems in medical facilities, to machines for food and pharmaceutical manufacturing, to residential housing products! Working with DriveWorks is always exciting and I love seeing the different ways that customers make use of the product.”

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

”Even during the course of my career, it seems that more and more women are being championed and rallied behind in developing their careers in engineering (and STEAM in general) as well as being treated more equal. We need to remember our worth and stick up for ourselves at all points in our careers. We are all capable.

I have faced challenges even in my somewhat short career as I was starting to get into engineering. I was turned down for a position because they worried “how men in the machine shop might act” around me, and I’ve had my salary reviewed and compensated retroactively because it was found that I was “making less than men in my role & experience”. Since working with DesignPoint and now Hawk Ridge, I have only ever felt supported and treated equally as a woman.”

Why is being in engineering important to you?

”Being in engineering is important to me because I feel that this is my way of making a difference in the world, no matter how big or small, with my best set of skills.”

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

”Be confident and believe in yourself! Find mentors that will guide you and don’t underestimate what you might learn from others outside of your department/field. As you learn – don’t be afraid to share your own knowledge. We learn the best from teaching others.”

Who has been your inspiration?

”My mother is my inspiration. She supports me and motivates me to grow and keep moving forward while pushing through barriers. She lives by treating others the way she would want to be treated and instilled that in me as well.”

What do you want people to remember about you?

”I want to be remembered for being kind, compassionate and helpful to others.”

How do you balance work/life responsibility?

”I love what I do, so when I am at work it’s fun and does not feel like a chore! When I am home, my husband (and fur baby – Kubo, an Australian Cattle Dog) get my attention first.

We’re sure to take time on weekends to recharge – get outside as much as possible to hike and be in nature and visit with the people we love. My husband is also an engineer (electrical, so he does his own form of automation as well!), so we have an understanding for each other in the different stages of work-life.”

Do you have a support network?

”I do! My husband, family and friends are my greatest support system. They have consistently championed me in all that I do.”

Thanks so much for sharing with us Colleen. It was interesting to hear from Colleen about how exciting the different projects she gets to work on in her career in engineering. We think it rightly highlights all the broad possibilities that a career in engineering offer.

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Join us as we continue celebrating more women in engineering.