Degree Fields
Industry Options
Precollege Ideas
Academic DegreesCareer Planning
University Choice
Diversity & WomenSCCC PodcastsSCCC Newsletter
Meet Professionals
Downloads & Links
Site Search / A -Z

Bookmark and Share


Mechanical Engineering Overview - PowerPoint - Podcast

Beth Lemen

Site Operations
Manager, P&G
Pharmaceuticals
Procter & Gamble
Cincinnati, OH


 
BS, Mechanical Engineering, Clarkson University
Site Operations Manager, managing operations at sites operated by contract manufacturers. Also responsible for setting up manufacturing and process facilities.
Beth's work takes her beyond straight engineering into manufacturing, marketing, and purchasing. She feels that it's important for students to get a broad sense of engineering by taking a variety of courses. In her work she deals with problems that involve civil, chemical, electrical, industrial, and yes, mechanical engineering.
"Junior year tends to be the year where you get bombarded. You get more into your major. You start taking classes that are specific to your major, versus compared to having all the general ones, and taking all the same courses as all the other engineering students. So, junior year was a big step up. That was definitely more challenging."


Lemen: "I chose the companies I wanted to work for. Because I had taken the manufacturing systems concentration, I was gearing more towards using my engineering degree, but in a manufacturing type setting. Procter & Gamble happened to be one of the companies that was looking for people with engineering degrees, for manufacturing. I went through the interview process, and this company and the role I was going to be in matched what I wanted to do at the time." 

Lemen: "I think it's a great career, especially now. Most of -- most companies, even if you're being hired for sales, if you're being hired for manufacturing, they are looking for engineers because you may not use your technical book knowledge, but you've learned to problem-solve, and you've learned to analyze problems. You've learned to analyze data. You've worked in group settings, so you've learned team dynamics and how to work with people."

Lemen: "In my first assignment, I was a team manager. Basically, I was responsible for three packaging lines, and all the technicians that worked for those people. Within that role, though, I wasn't just a supervisor. I had to lead projects, coach the technicians. So, I went in, you know, understanding how a packaging line works, or being able to figure that out from my schooling, but where my biggest growth was, was working with people, working in -- with a team -- in a team setting. Resolving conflict."

Q: Beth, how did you decide to be an engineer?
Lemen:
I started out wanting to be an engineer, in high school. Just through being very good at math and science, and getting coaching from my guidance counselors. When I started looking at schools in-state, I looked at chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. Any school that had either of those. When I first started college, I actually went for chemical engineering. I took two semesters of chemical engineering, and decided it wasn't really what I wanted. I thought I wanted it because I was good at chemistry. I then took a semester of a mixture of courses. I took some electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and one civil engineering course, to try to feel for what I liked. And the courses I tended to excel in, understood, could reapply, were mechanical-engineering courses. And, so, I switched my major, my sophomore year. Went to school, over the summer, to catch up with my classes. And I've continued on from there.

Q: How did you find the work in college? Was it extremely difficult for you? Or were you pretty evenly matched? How challenging was it?
Lemen:
At first, I feel I was evenly matched. Junior year tends to be the year where you get bombarded. You get more into your major. You start taking classes that are specific to your major, versus compared to having all the general ones, and taking all the same courses as all the other engineering students. At least at the college I was at. So, junior year was a big step up. That was definitely more challenging. And, in my senior year, I was able to finish off my mechanical engineering courses, as well as take a manufacturing concentration.

Q: Of those classes, especially your junior and senior year that you took, do you still apply that to what you do, now? I mean, do you still use what you learned in college?
Lemen:
I use what I learned in college, but I learned more of the skills than the actual formulas and text that I learned. I don't use my thermodynamics and fluid mechanics as much. But I do use a lot of my problem-solving skills, analytical skills, teamwork skills, by working on projects. My role is not as an engineer. My title is not an engineer. But I use the skills I learned versus all the technical knowledge, to do what I need to do.

Q: How did you get your first job? What led you to you first job, right out of college?
Lemen:
I went to Clarkson University. And they have a placement program. Basically, your senior year, you are interviewing. They have an interviewing program. You get to select companies you want to interview with. You interview on campus. And so, through that, I chose the companies I wanted to work for. Because I had taken the manufacturing-systems concentration, I was gearing more towards using my engineering degree, but in a manufacturing type setting. And Proctor & Gamble happened to be one of the companies that was looking for people with engineering degrees, for manufacturing. I went through the interview process, and this company, and the role I was going to be in, matched what I wanted to do at the time.

Q: Did you log a lot of hours per week? Is it about average?
Lemen:
In my manufacturing assignment, when I was a team manager, I had people across three shifts. Two to three shifts at any given time. So, there were times when I'd work, easily, twelve-hour days, most of the week. And most of the other managers I worked with did the same thing. It was very odd to work an eight-hour day. But there was a lot of camaraderie and a lot of support, and you didn't really think of it as abnormal, because everyone did it. In my new assignment, I've balanced my personal life, or outside-of-work life, a little better with my work. I work approximately ten-hour days. If there's a big surge, you know, you work the time you need to. I haven't had that, yet, because it's new. But I'd say, the average is ten-hour days.

Q: How do you balance your personal life, outside of work? And work? What's your philosophy on that?
Lemen:
I started out, out of college, being a workaholic. Basically. Twelve-hour days were the norm. Sometimes longer, depending on the problems we were having. Sometimes less. What I have found, in the roles I've been in is that I can make my schedule. And especially now, being in a different environment and sort of starting fresh, I've been more conscious of making sure I do what I need to do to take care of myself. What I've found is, when I get distracted at work because something outside of work is not being taken care of, then that doesn't do myself or the company or the job I'm doing any good. It tends to suffer. And it took me awhile to learn that. Now that I have, I basically make sure I'm taking care of what needs to be taken care of. I've been able to do some of that at work. And if I need to, I take work home. So, I've been able to find a way to balance that, without making my life or work suffer.

Q: So, overall, what is your view of engineering as a career?
Lemen:
I think it's a great career, especially now. Most companies, even if you're being hired for sales, if you're being hired for manufacturing, they are looking for engineers, because you may not use your technical book knowledge, but you've learned to problem-solve, and you've learned to analyze problems. You've learned to analyze data. You've worked in group settings, so you've learned team dynamics and how to work with people. And those are the skills that most companies are looking for -- no matter if you're going into engineering, sales or manufacturing.

Q: Do you find difficulty, as a woman, especially in mechanical engineering?
Lemen:
In college, I did find it difficult, because it was primarily male-oriented, and most of the people in my classes tended to clump together in groups. You know, four guys would work on a project; three guys would work on a project. And it was rare, for whatever reason, that you had a real mixed group. So, it was difficult in school. Coming into the work place, I have found credibility to be a bit of an issue. Even though you've got your engineering degree, you're still a woman. And the company I work believes in diversity and values everyone's background and everyone's view. So, being a woman engineer, I have not felt that my skills have been overlooked in the workplace. I worked very closely with a male engineer, in one of my roles, and he would seek me out for advice and to work on other projects with him, because he knew I had technically sound ideas, that I knew what I was talking about, and that I could work well with people on projects.

Download Full Profile as PDF

 

 


Science
Technology
Engineering
 Computer Science
 Engineering Technology
 Engineering
  -- Aerospace
  -- Agricultural
  -- Architectural
  -- Bioengineering
  -- Chemical
  -- Civil
  -- Computer
  -- Electrical
  -- Environmental
  -- Industrial
  -- Manufacturing
  -- Materials
  -- Mechanical
  -- Nuclear
  -- Mining
  -- Petroleum
  -- Software
  -- Others
Mathematics
Computing
Healthcare


Students
Counselors
Teachers
Parents
Graduates

      AboutContactsCopyrightMedia SupportSubscriptions