I would like to introduce you to a dynamic young lady who is using her knowledge of Chemistry and engineering to make an impact in the coatings industry. She works for Herman Miller a leader in home furnishings, from the website:
“Herman Miller is a recognized innovator in contemporary interior furnishings, solutions for healthcare environments, and related technologies and services. A publicly held company headquartered in Zeeland, Michigan, we have manufacturing facilities in the United States, China, Italy, and the United Kingdom and sales offices, dealers, licensees, and customers in over 100 countries.” Learn more at hermanmiller.com
Let’s speak with Danielle to learn more about what it takes to make it as a Chemical Engineer in a products company.
What do you do?
Currently I am a Coatings Engineer at Herman Miller. I am in charge of a powder coating line with additional side projects ranging from renovating part of our production line to helping develop new powder coatings.
What is your typical day like at work?
One exciting thing about working in a production facility is never two days are the same. I was brought onto my team to bring a chemical understanding on why the powder behaves the way it does. I enjoy working with our supplier on formulation testing but I like having the ability to switch it up and work on machinery when I need a change of pace. This job rarely gets repetitive.
What is your educational background?What led you into your career field?
I have always kind of done things backwards. I picked my school before I picked my degree. It’s kind of the same thing with how I ended up in coatings at Herman Miller. I had heard how awesome Herman Miller was to work for and I was able to find a position that excited me. It’s not a very exciting story but I have been blessed that it’s all worked out.
What advice do you have for high school girls?
“ You do you”… I know that sounds kind of dumb but no two people are the same. Your uniqueness is what is going to help you standout and be able to bring a different perspective to any job. In the long run you’re going to have some obstacles and in my experience you will be more motivated to get through the hard times if you love you and what you’re doing.
What advice do you have for parents who want to raise STEM inclined girls?
I was lucky to have very smart and supportive parents. When I look back on how they raised me I think the advice I would pass on is start your kids out young showing them science is fun. My parents always signed me up for science summer camps and got me fun toys that were science or math based. It helped start “my love” for science that stayed around even when I got to harder classes later on that were not so fun.
Why do you think it is important for a network like “STEM Girl Social Network” where teens can connect with other women who have similar interests and mentors?
I think it’s important for the networking of young women with similar interests as themselves because I’ve seen the positive impact it has had on my life and career. One unique thing about Herman Miller is they have a subcommittee similar to STEM Girl Social Network and I’ve been enjoyed becoming a part of it. With most of the jobs in the STEM fields being male dominated, there are times were you need a little motivation or advice. The other women in this group have proven to be great mentors and friends. They have been able to give me advice and help me through situations I was unsure of how to handle. It’s kind of like having your teacher give you most of the questions that you will be having on a test before you take it… It definitely makes studying a lot easier. Having a network is kind of the same thing. These women have went through similar situations and when I ask for help they already know from their experience what has worked and what has not. I have been very lucky to have found some very talented women as mentors because without them the transition into my current position would have been a lot harder.