Upon moving to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania after graduating from college, Elizabeth reached out to the organizations in which she participated in school as a way to meet new people and become grounded in her new surroundings. Elizabeth joined the Lehigh Valley section of AIChE and currently holds the positions of Secretary and Webmaster. She also continued her association with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Through the local sections of AIChE and SWE, she was introduced to the Lehigh Valley Engineering Council (LVEC) which is an umbrella organization that works to unite local professional engineering sections and to promote cross-disciplinary communication and interaction. The LVEC also organizes an annual Engineer's Week Banquet. Elizabeth became the youngest chair of the LVEC and invited June Wispelwey, the newly appointed Executive Director of AIChE to be the Keynote Speaker for the 2009 Banquet. June gave a wonderful presentation on the role of the engineering community in addressing energy and sustainability issues, and she highlighted some of AIChE's own initiatives. At the AIChE Annual Meeting in 2008 in Philadelphia, Elizabeth served on the WIC panel for collegiate and graduate women with questions about entering the work force. More recently, Elizabeth has become the WIC Webmaster. Also, after learning about ChEnected at a local section meeting from John Cirucci, Chair of AIChE's Societal Impact Operating Council, Elizabeth "got ChEnected" and has already written several blog posts for the site (and hopes to write many more!). Below is my recent interview with Elizabeth:
John: Where are you from?
Elizabeth: I was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. Area - Virginia side.
John: Where did you complete / are you completing your chemical engineering education?
Elizabeth: I attended the University of Virginia and earned a BS in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Materials Science in 2006. I am now continuing my education going part-time to Lehigh University for my MBA.
John: How long have you been a member of AIChE?
Elizabeth: I joined as a student member the first year that I could and have been a full member ever since I graduated college.
John: What company/institution do you work for?
Elizabeth: I am an Operations Engineer for Lutron Electronics Co., Inc, the world leader in the design and manufacture of lighting control solutions for both residential and commercial applications. For a time I was the company's only chemical engineer. Check out my Chenected post "Non-Chemistry for Chemical Engineers."
John: Describe a recent challenge you managed, notable achievement, or obstacle you overcame at your job or in your work as an AIChE member?
Elizabeth: Since I began working on an ERP implementation project at work, I have found almost every day to be a new challenge. It has been very interesting and rewarding working with cross-functional teams to form creative solutions to satisfy business needs. I think this is where my "big picture" system training I received as an undergrad has really helped me to drive thoughtful and appropriate solutions across the business. Additionally, one of the advantages I feel I have as an engineer is the "I've never seen this before, but I'll figure it out" attitude which helps me to complete new and different tasks on the project. I am going to have to credit UVA and my parents for instilling that attitude in me.
John: What do you do to meet people in your field?
Elizabeth: Since chemical engineers are few and far between at my company, I have made it a priority to stay involved in AIChE to keep in touch with the chemical engineering world- so I mostly meet other ChemEs through AIChE (local section and annual meetings).
John: Tell us a little bit about yourself... What is one of your hobbies? How do you spend your spare time? What's your favorite place to travel? Or anything else you'd like to share...
Elizabeth: What is this thing you call "spare time"? It is unfamiliar to me... I have been swimming competitively since I was seven and after a hiatus in college, I have begun returning to competition - I currently hold 3 PA Keystone State Games Masters Swimming records and this summer placed first in the female 20-29 age group in the 1.5 mile Steelman Open Water Swim. When I am not in the pool, at work, or doing homework for my MBA classes, I enjoy a wide range of other activities from baking and photography to painting and sewing. I have actually entered some results from my baking and photography pursuits into the Great Allentown Fair - and have a couple of ribbons to show for it! I always like trying new things! Check out Elizabeth's ChEnected profile for more information.