Getting into Engineering: Rachel was introduced to the engineering world at a young age, growing up around the field. Her father, a mechanic and “fixer of anything”, kept her involved with his work. She was the official “gopher” fetching all of his tools when needed, but also learning in the process. “Being an only child, I was the girl with the Dad who took me to do everything.”
As a teenager, one of her dad’s stipulations before she could purchase her own car was that she would need to learn how to maintain it on her own. Because of this, Rachel took auto shop as well as other technology related classes and found out that she had a passion for drafting. “I love to draw and I like to see how things go together, the instruction books that come with stuff are cool to me. When I went to technical school I just knew that I wanted to draft. “
The transition from hand drafting to CAD was a great experience for Rachel. Her first industry job was with 2D legacy projects and the company was going to be using SOLIDWORKS on future ones. After learning about this in her first week, she requested to be involved and immediately received SOLIDWORKS training.
User Groups: In the beginning, Rachel didn’t go to user groups or outside community events. But while working with Reggie Mckelly, he took her to a user group meeting in Texas. “It was awesome and fun.” Rachel made the move to NY without a job, and realized that there was not a user group in her area. “I thought that user groups just existed, and I didn’t have a network.” After speaking with her reseller about this, Rachel started the NY user group with their help. Being a User Group Leader gave her the experience of speaking in front of large groups and she quickly became comfortable with that environment. “We all do the same thing every day; we needed people to bounce ideas off of, and had some great presentations from users. They are a fantastic, fun group of people. For users by users, and you can’t leave without learning something.”
Certification: Because of Rachel’s network and relationships within her user group, her reseller had an open position for support. After speaking with several people about the opportunity, Rachel realized this would give her a different perspective and she jumped on board. “I really enjoy my job.” When she began her new job, it didn’t occur to her that she would need to be certified in the many areas that SOLIDWORKS offers. There were 6 different perspectives she needed to learn, and she felt overwhelmed for the first year. She realized that there was so much that she needed to learn and she was excited for it when she became familiar with the certification process. Today Rachel has a board in her office with the Elite AE requirements. She calls it the WALL OF AWESOME. “Its hard work but its fun and it excites me.”
Stigmas? : “I feel like you’re always going to encounter the attitude, it exists. In classes I acted like a 5 year old asking why, until I understood and could explain it to someone else. Sometimes you hit the because you’re a women wall, but most people are supportive.”
Activities outside of work: Besides her amazing work with user groups, Rachel participates with a FIRST high school Robotics team. Helping the teacher with their questions and showing the students how things work. (Team 5236 Cambridge High school) “I like to help connect people. I go to at least 4-6 meetings per year and I am presenting in NYC, this year.”
Mentors: “My mentors have been Reggie and Tim, they took me from just curious about how things work and opened up the world for me. When I moved to NY, Jonny D would answer any questions I asked. They have been amazing.
Advice for girls wanting to go into the field: “Whenever you’re uncomfortable, or when you think you’re going to be: wear your favorite shoes. I found that my boots have saved me a million times. You have to have comfortable shoes, they are like my security blanket since they are my favorite.”
Favorite video game: Xbox1, Halo series is the best but I have been playing Destiny lately.