Five Questions Friday with Christine Longwell of Proterra

Christine Longwell picture Name: Christine Longwell

Company: Proterra, maker of zero-emission commercial transit solutions

Title: Manufacturing Process Engineer. I facilitate communication between engineering functions and a brand new electric bus manufacturing line.

Hometown: Greenville, S.C.


1. Why do you choose to do the work you do? How did you find yourself in this career?
Working with a start-up company is really exciting. We know where we want to be in terms of manufacturing a premier product, and we are tasked with developing the processes that are going to get us to capacity while taking into account different needs to facilitate our growth.

It’s particularly exciting to work for a company that is developing a new product that I can stand behind 100%. My passion for fuel-friendly vehicles goes back to my days at University of Maryland where I worked with a team to develop hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). I became a large proponent of pure electric vehicles because of their simplicity and reliability. The transit market is a great starting point for this type of technology because the duty cycle of these vehicles is so consistent and measurable.

When I heard an electric transit factory was launching in my hometown, I was thrilled to hear Greenville is on the leading edge of the Green vehicle revolution. It turns out they were looking for someone who had worked with these types of vehicles in a startup stage and had Solid Works experience.


2. What is your proudest career moment?
I think my proudest moment is yet to come, and I am anticipating that to correspond with shipping our first EV bus that I was involved in from the ground up.

Aside from that, in my career I have had several opportunities to work as a service provider in different capacities. I am always thrilled when a customer writes me a nice recommendation, or passes my name along to another customer. I enjoy helping companies prosper by leveraging my lengthy SolidWorks background to help solve tangible business problems.


3. What goal of yours inspires you most?
Tackling new problems and applying new tools always motivates me. I have been largely focused on data flow and communication lately, and I have had a chance to start using 3DVIA Composer. Contextually relevant, digital deployment of information to the shop floor is a really exciting project that will help differentiate Proterra as a model in the manufacturing industry.

I have also had an excellent opportunity to try out several partner products. I think there are more opportunities than ever for companies to go beyond solid modeling, and improve their business with third party quality, collaboration, design automation, and rapid prototyping technologies. There are so many exciting new products on the market that build on the SolidWorks platform, and I look forward to learning more about how to use them.

I am really focused on the future of the industry, and I see how social, collaborative tools are going to revolutionize the product development process. Historically, only large companies have had access to integrated data systems, but new hosted technologies are going to make these tools available to small, mid-sized, and growing companies.


4. How has SolidWorks made a difference in your life?
I was really fortunate to be in the right place at the right time when I was looking for an internship in college. I found myself as an applications engineer for a startup SolidWorks value-added reseller, and developed a lot of professional relationships that I continue to value to this day.

Over the years I have had a number of roles from reseller, to customer, to business owner, and even a brief internship at SolidWorks corporate. In the last few years I have been active as an organizer of the local SWUGN chapter, and we have had some good meetings. The strength of the user community and enthusiasm for the tool never ceases to amaze me. The willingness to share best practices makes the entire community an inspiring, supportive, and almost playful environment. (See Christine’s blog.)

 It’s also rewarding to be an asset to coworkers, and help identify knowledge gaps in order to increase the productivity of our working team.


5. What do you do for fun?
On my last trip out to Golden, Colo., I acquired a beat-up old Jeep. Naturally, the first thing you do when you buy an old Jeep is take it apart, and put together a project plan for reconstruction. After working on a computer for a large portion of the day, I love to work with my hands, and actually build something. The creativity involved in the project is limitless, and it reminds me a bit of playing with LEGOs as a kid, except I can drive it. Even grownups are entitled to play with toys.


Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.