It’s been awhile since I’ve had an opportunity to share an interview for my Women in Engineering Interview Series. I’m happy to say I have another great one to share with you today!
I interviewed Kristen Antosh, STEM blogger at Momgineering the Future, and former Quality Engineer. In her engineering career she’s worked for some well-known companies such as Toyota and Phillips Medical Systems. Now she’s raising her young kids and sharing her experiences to influence the next generation of kids to go into STEM fields.
I met Kristen through social media because we have a lot in common. Like me, Christy (From Engineer to SAHM), and many more women, she is a currently a stay-at-home mom and STEM blogger, but before that she had an interesting career as an engineer. I hope you enjoy reading her story below.
Engineering Emily (EE): How and when did you decide to become an engineer?
Kristen Antosh (KA): I always loved science. When I turned 17, I was trying to decide on a career path and what college major I wanted to study. My dad, also an engineer, asked if I would be interested in an all girls weeklong engineering camp at a university nearby.
The week was filled with cool science experiments and challenges as well as visits to manufacturing facilities and interviews with engineers that worked at those companies. I was so excited about all of the opportunities available in engineering! After that week, I knew I wanted to be an engineer.
EE: What was your college major?
KA: My college major was Materials Science and Engineering.
EE: What was your university experience like as an engineering student?
KA: My university experience was challenging, life changing and exciting! I had to study long hours and work very hard. Many of my projects and studies required late nights and early mornings.
In college I was one of only two girls in my class. None of my friends followed me to the same college, so I made all new friends and developed my own study groups. I learned to work on projects in teams with people that I had never met before.
Being active in several college organizations was an excellent way to meet new people and develop life long skills outside of my engineering skills and knowledge. Specifically, I was very active in the Society of Women Engineers in college and served in many leadership positions. I learned a lot about time management, leadership (both the fun and challenging sides of it), my own leadership style and how to work and lead teams of people. I learned how to rely on others and also how to communicate clearly. I also developed friendships with other women that shared similar interests.
Thinking back on my college career, I know that every experience in college prepared me for my profession. As a professional, I’ve been required to learn new technologies, software, terminology, etc. quickly, I’ve had to work with and lead teams of people that I have never met before to solve a problem, and I have had to work long hours to ensure the success of a project or to address a problem.
EE: Did you do any engineering internships during college?
KA: Yes, I completed six quarters of cooperative education while in college.
EE: How did you find/get hired for your first engineering job?
KA: My universities cooperative education department provided a list of jobs available to
me. I created my first resume and chose which companies I wanted to send my resume to. I submitted my resume, was asked to interview, interviewed and then I was offered the position. I was so excited to be able to work for the company that was my first choice – Toyota! They also later offered me my first full time position prior to graduation, which I accepted. It was a relief to have a job lined up prior to graduating.
EE: What industry do you currently work in?
KA: I have worked in two highly regulated industries – medical device and automotive.
EE: What has been your career path from college graduation up to today?
KA: After graduation, I immediately began working at Toyota as a Material Quality Engineer. I was responsible for ensuring the quality of several chemical raw materials that went to automotive manufacturing facilities – specifically paints, adhesives, sealants and plastics.
I also worked in customer quality engineering. In that position, I specialized in the corrosion found on vehicles in the field (customer vehicles) and worked with and led several teams of engineers and designers to address corrosion issues that we found. I had the opportunity to work with people across the country and internationally!
After several years, I decided to embark on a new journey and try a new industry that I always had interest in – healthcare. I accepted a supplier quality engineering position with Philips Medical Systems where they produced very intricate and highly specialized medical devices.
Once my husband and I started our family, I knew that I wanted the opportunity to stay home with my children, so I am currently taking a break from my engineering career to raise our small children.
EE: Have you travelled for work, and if so how often and to where?
KA: While working, I traveled quite a bit across North America.
EE: What has been your best experience working as an engineer?
KA: My best experiences working as an engineer, have been when I have been able to successfully lead a team and resolve a difficult problem.
EE: What has been your most challenging experience working as an engineer?
KA: My most challenging experience as an engineer has been when I had to work very long hours, outside of my normal work time, to ensure the completion of a project or to resolve a problem. This was not the norm in my career, but when it was required, it was very challenging at times.
EE: Do you feel women are treated equally to men in engineering?
KA: I can only speak from my own experience in my career. I personally never felt that I was treated differently for being a woman in engineering. I always felt well respected and compensated fairly for my work.
EE: You’re no longer working as an engineer, why did you leave engineering? And do you plan to ever return to engineering in the future?
KA: I chose to leave my career because I wanted to embark on a new challenge as a stay-at-home mom, which I like to call ‘Momgineering’. I wanted to devote my time fully to my children while they were young. It has been the most difficult career I’ve ever had.
Eventually, I think that I would like return to my engineering roots in some way but I do not know what that return will look like yet.
EE: What advice do you have for girls interested becoming an engineer?
KA: My advice is to expose yourself to as many STEM opportunities as you can while you are young so that you can build your confidence! Immerse yourself in books about other woman engineers. Find ways to step out of your comfort zone so you can gain skills to communicate effectively with others and build your confidence.
You can become whatever you want in life. Your dream career is waiting for you, just be ready to work hard for it.
EE: Would you still become an engineer if you could do it all over again?
KA: If I could do it all again, I would have become an engineer. Engineering offers a world of opportunities.
EE: Any other information or stories you’d like to share?
KA: I am a STEM blogger and founder at Momgineering the Future, where I share STEM topics, ideas, careers, books and videos for parents and children. If you’d like to follow along, check out my social media pages or sign up to follow my blog on my website! I also often write for the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio as well as Northeast Ohio Parent. Those publications can also be found on my website, under “Additional Publications”.
I really enjoyed getting to know Kristen better in this interview and I can relate to many of her experiences. Luckily, since her dad is an engineer, he was able to lead her in the right direction to get her interested in engineering. And now she’s paying it forward by doing the same for so many other girls with her blog.
I think her advice is so great telling girls (and parents) to start getting STEM exposure and experiences from a young age to build confidence in your skills and abilities. Luckily, there are a lot more STEM themed programs, clubs, and camps for kids these days, so it isn’t as hard to find these experiences as when I was young.
One of the best parts of blogging is finding a community of other people with similar passions. I have really connected with Kristen because we share such a similar background. We both were involved at the leadership level with Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in college, we both worked as engineers for large companies, and now are both focusing on raising our kids. I’m right there with her when she said raising her kids is the most difficult job she’s ever had!
I especially love how Kristen and I are both passionate about making STEM fun and accessible to families so kids can be introduced to STEM from a young age. If you enjoy my blog, I know you will love hers too, so I highly recommend checking it out!
Thanks again to Kristen for sharing her story today, and if you’re a woman engineer and Kristen has inspired you to share you’re story as well, please contact me today!