Elite Women in Engineering

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June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022, is International Women in Engineering Day (IWE Day). This event was initiated by the Women’s Engineering Society and has been celebrated globally since 2014.

Elite is fortunate to have three talented women engineers on the staff. To celebrate IWE Day at Elite we recognize Jessica Kramer, Tylar Jozefczyk, and Kate Fanning for their hard work, determination, and contributions to the engineering profession at Elite.

Jessica Kramer, mechanical engineer in Elite’s Lighting and Photometry department, develops and analyzes tests of lighting fixtures, aviation lighting, and other illumination devices.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) engineer Tylar Jozefczyk tests the compliance of electronic devices with regulatory requirements such as FCC, ISED-Canada, and EN standards for Europe.

Environmental test engineer Kate Fanning’s expertise is in mechanical stress testing, battery testing, cables, and connector testing, among others.

Each has her own background, skills, and specialty, and we are proud to have them as part of our company. Their story and their path to an engineering career are the focus of this month’s Elite employee spotlight celebrating IWE Day. We recently caught up with them to ask what inspired them to pursue an engineering career and what advice they have for others considering a similar pursuit.

Jessica Kramer, Tylar Jozefczyk and Kate Fanning

Elite Insider:  When did you know you wanted a career in Science, Tech, Engineering, Math (STEM)?

Tylar –   As a child, I loved to build with Legos. Later I became interested in space and exploration and watched many of the NASA and SpaceX Dragon launches. In high school, science and physics were my favorite subjects. I was just drawn more to science than other subjects.

Kate – A similar story for me, as high school science was my favorite. I recall taking things apart to understand them. I would compete in science fairs and liked the concept of testing and experiments. Leaving high school, I was intent on playing ice hockey

at the collegiate level and had my mind set on studying psychology, a soft-science field. But a year into Psych I found myself missing the absolutes of the hard sciences, math, and experimentation, so I switched to a physics major. I loved it and never looked back.

Jessica – That’s interesting, I was also a kid that would take things apart!  My parents encouraged my curiosity; although they did not appreciate all the things I took apart and left apart!

Tylar Jozefczyk (left) showing antenna orientation in the EMC lab

Elite Insider:  Did you receive encouragement to pursue an engineering profession?

Jessica – My mom encouraged me to be an engineer. She and my dad were dentists, so you would think I would have followed their path. But for me knowing about dentistry through my parents’ experience was enough to steer me toward a different course and one of my own interests. My mom recognized that I liked science and that I was curious about everything. I guess my parents felt I had the Knack… you know, Dilbert’s “Curse of the Engineer”

Jessica Kramer (right) describes illumination testing

Kate – My dad was a big influence and encouraged me to become an engineer. Most of my friends were already pursuing college science degrees like biology or medicine. So, when I switched from Psych to physics after my first year, most of my friends and family knew it was the right choice for me and were very supportive.

Tylar – I credit my stepdad for encouraging me to become an electrical engineer. He was an electrical foreman working in Chicago and knew that I would enjoy a technical career. It was fun to talk with him about the work I was doing at Elite because he was a family member who could understand the interesting and complex things we do. It was a good common bond for us and fond memories for me.

Tylar – My friends, however, could not understand why I chose physics as my degree. They would ask why anyone would do such a hard thing. And even though I would passionately describe how physics and calculus explain everything, in return I usually received friendly eye-rolling or blank stares from them. Anyway, I finished my physics major, then continued with an electrical engineering degree and math minor…. I think my friends finally understand me and now accept my love of science and math!

Elite Insider:  What’s the most challenging aspect of becoming or being an engineer?

Tylar – The biggest challenge has been applying what you learned in college to the work at Elite. An engineering degree provides a good foundation, but it does not teach you how to perform your job. I’ve learned to be a regulatory EMC engineer from scratch and there’s no fast and easy path to learning it. It’s only through experience and hands-on hard work that you finally become confident at your job.

Kate & Jessica –   We agree 100% with Tylar. Every day we learn how to apply our tech backgrounds to become better at our jobs. There are so many things to know, and each day seems like a new and different experience. We encounter new specifications, unique tests, new test equipment, and at least two or three different client projects every week! Being an engineer helps me adapt to multitasking, but it will take time and experience to really feel comfortable.

Kate Fanning (center) explains battery-test monitoring

Elite Insider:  What advice can you offer to young girls about a STEM career?

Kate – Pursue your passions! Whether it’s in engineering, ice hockey, or any other pursuit, don’t let anyone tell you can’t do it. Use their skepticism to fuel your determination.

Tylar –   Even though the engineering profession draws many more men than women, don’t let that stop you. I had many college classes being the only girl, but I became accustomed to it, and you will too. During college, try to join clubs or different non-tech social groups to extend your connection to others. For me, I joined a Robotics club and met friends through it. 

Jessica –   Engineering is a wonderful career path for women so don’t let stereotypes or the demographics about engineering stop you or intimidate you. Ladies do just as well and can be just as successful as anyone else, especially in a technical field. You can succeed as we did by following your passion, applying hard work, and maintaining your determination.

Elite proudly recognizes Tylar, Jessica, and Kate on IWE Day. We admire their achievements and encourage women of all backgrounds to consider a career in engineering. Here at Elite, we have a few suggestions for aspiring engineers:  

  • Apply for the annual Elite-sponsored IEEE EMC Society James C. Klouda scholarship. This is a scholarship in the name of Elite’s founder. It is a prestigious recognition and includes a monetary award.
  • Schedule a visit to our lab. We encourage tech-minded high school or college-age persons to contact Elite and arrange a visit with a staff engineer and tour of our facility. You can see first-hand examples of electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science and coding, and physics disciplines all coming together at one location.
  • Elite is hiring, so come join us! We welcome women to apply for several of our new job openings as full-time candidates or even internships for those still in school. Learn how you can build a great engineering career on our team!
  • Contact the IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) Society. The WIE is a world leader in changing the face of engineering. With 30,000 members in over 100 countries, IEEE WIE is a network that advances women in technology at all points in their lives and careers. IEEE WIE members make lifelong friendships, acquire influential mentors, and make a difference for the benefit of humanity.