My Fantastical Journey as a Woman in Engineering

Kay JonesBlog

Well, I wish I could regale you with a grand, fantasy-filled story of being a little girl on a farm in rural Eastern North Carolina who wanted nothing more than to realize her dream of becoming an engineer whose days were filled with writing automation code.

However, that is not at all the case—I really wanted to be a veterinarian, but perhaps that is a story for another blog post.

What I will share is that I have always had a fascination with how things work and, taking it a step further, how I could make them work better. Many times on the farm I would try to make my tasks easier whether it was collecting eggs, sorting potatoes, or harvesting hay. These were incredibly hard and laborious tasks, so I would spend my days simply trying to make them easier—or at least I did so in my mind.

When I was in high school, I explained to my agriculture teacher about an idea I had for automating the process of collecting eggs. I thought I was about to revolutionize the chicken egg industry for years to come! A day or so later, with a huge smile on his face, he showed me an article about a belt-driven automated system that collected eggs from the chickens and brought them into a collection area. My mind was blown!

He looked at me that day and he simply said, “Keep thinking.”

It was one of those aha moments.

I am happy to report that I took his advice. I took my fascination for optimizing efficiency and applied it to my professional life, ultimately leading me to become a quality assurance (QA) automation engineer.

QA automation engineering doesn’t often generate the same excitement and curiosity as chemical, electrical, or computer engineering. However, as I explained recently in my son’s middle school STEM class, it comes with an essential responsibility of making sure the products we love actually work the way we expect.

Every product on the market goes through a QA process. QA touches every aspect of our lives from the clothes we wear, the products we use, and the food we eat. Behind every product, there is someone doing their best to ensure we get quality from the products and items we buy. QA work ensures that the product’s business requirements are met, and that the user experience was planned and tested before the product hits the market. In terms of software development, QA automation engineering is the process of writing code that enables the testing of applications to be run automatically, allowing for tests that happen faster and frequently.

If it seems like QA work requires you to wear multiple hats, it’s because it certainly does! I often begin looking at a project as a business analyst in an attempt to fully understand what we are trying to accomplish. I then put on my QA hat to make sure that we have accomplished that goal from a technical perspective, and that no unexpected outcomes occur. I then advocate for the user by asking if this is the best experience for them. In fact, that is the most satisfying part of my work: At TransLoc, I produce software that helps a user get to their desired location or makes it easy for a transit agency to enter routes, stops, and trips for their riders to use.

My son’s STEM teacher asked how I felt being a female in a mostly male-dominated world of engineering. My reply was that I think diversity is the key to success. When we introduce individuals from different backgrounds or perspectives, we introduce a different lens in which to look at a problem and discover a solution. A diversity mindset is what ultimately leads to greatness, and we should remember that greatness is not exclusive to one gender.

If you are a woman of any age who is questioning whether or not to pursue a career in engineering, or any field for that matter, I say go full steam! If you are pursuing an interest that makes you happy, fulfills your spirit, and keeps you wanting more, then charge forward and let nothing (and no one) stand in your way. Maybe you like getting lost in details, digging deep into a topic, and playing with possible outcomes? If so, you may have the foundation for a career in QA (not that I’m biased or anything).

Wherever your passion may lie, let it be the ink for you to write the first of many chapters in your own tale that may or may not be fantasy-filled, but will certainly be inspirational.

TransLoc is actively recruiting engineering talent, as well as amazing professionals across the business spectrum, to solve the world’s mobility challenges and revolutionize mobility for all. Browse our open positions and apply today!