This edition of The Power Women of the Wiring Harness Industry features Natalie Wheeler, a Product Engineer at TE Connectivity.
Natalie’s path into engineering was slightly unconventional. There were no clear engineering influences in her childhood in Minnesota. As a young woman, she attended many STEM events that sparked her interest in Math and Science, but they never made her think about pursuing engineering as a career. Later when her highly-educated, non-engineering parents relocated the family to Virginia, she approached the start of her college career with a dilemma. She was struggling to make a choice between what she thought were two competing interests—the arts and the sciences. While music was a passion, a conversation with her mother led her to realize that a career in engineering opened more doors for her future.
As luck would have it, Natalie found a program at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania that combined her interests in both Engineering and the Arts. She quickly enrolled and moved to PA where the snowy winters reminded her fondly of her early years in Minnesota.
Although the ratio of male to female engineers can often be a concern, Natalie was excited to discover that the gender diversity was split nearly evenly between men and women in her program at Lehigh. The diversity also extended into a plethora of unique backgrounds, interests and viewpoints relative to her fellow classmates.
Following in her parents’ footsteps, Natalie went on to pursue a Master’s degree. The Technical Entrepreneurship program at Lehigh allowed her to gain a better understanding of how strategic and operational decisions are made in a company, rounding out her knowledge in engineering, the arts, and business.
Natalie was offered a position with TE Connectivity in spring, post-graduation. Aware of its rotational program’s exposure to a diverse group of people and programs, she was interested in the variety and opportunity to learn new things in different areas of the business. In the program, employees rotate approximately every 15 weeks for two years among departments where she gained experience in a wide variety of engineering roles.
Currently working in the machines team within the Application Tooling Business Unit, Natalie has an exciting opportunity to support a product line on a global team. This machine product supports the MAG-MATE line of terminals, which are insulation displacement connections, on a variety of different small motor applications. She has also been able to pursue her interests in aesthetic design and continuous process improvement during her short time outside of the rotation program.
Natalie recommends engineering as a major to other females entering college, even if they have not previously considered the major or have additional interests outside of engineering. She has had positive experiences at college and at TE Connectivity and believes that there are various opportunities in engineering, especially for females. If a student enjoys building projects or solving problems, engineering can be a great fit. She advises that students need not worry if they are not the smartest in the class as there are many, many options and opportunities available. There is not one type of person who can be an engineer, and she believes that diversity in our backgrounds leads to diverse solutions.
Thank you to Natalie for your time and interest in supporting our initiative to promote females in engineering.
If you know a female engineer who would make a great candidate to feature in the Power Women series, please direct them to me at melissa. [email protected]