Megan Hetisimer

Powertrain Engineer, Ford Motor Company

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Don't be afraid to do something you're passionate about, even if it isn't the cool thing or what everyone else is doing.

What do you do?

I am an engine calibration engineer, which means that I do a lot of in-vehicle testing. We take data on our computers using a special software, run drive cycles, analyze the data, and make changes to the calibration based on those results. It's very hands-on and I get to travel a lot!

I specifically work on the diesel side of our department. Each vehicle configuration has a unique software and calibration that tell the engine what to do (how much fuel to deliver, when to deliver it, monitoring temperatures so components don't fail, etc). There are a lot of unique challenges for diesel, since we have to meet very strict emissions, performance, and fuel economy targets. We are responsible for how the vehicle feels and performs when you drive it. If we don't meet emissions and fuel economy regulations, we can't sell vehicles. My job is challenging but exciting! I get paid to drive around in the best-selling truck in America and that's pretty cool!

Why did you choose this field?

My dad is an engineer and taught me how to do basic maintenance on our own vehicles. I was really interested in seeing how all the components worked together mechanically, and I enjoyed my math and physics classes in school. That coupled with the industry demand, salary potential, and opportunities made Mechanical Engineering a no-brainer for me!

I've been passionate about the automotive industry since I learned how to drive. Ford was always the goal because their values aligned with my own values and interests. We build more vehicles in the US than any other automaker, didn't take the government bailout in 2009, and own the commercial vehicle market where customers use our products to earn a living. I love the passion behind automotive and our vehicles!

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I honestly think one of my biggest achievements is getting into Ford so early on in my career. I always wanted to work here, but never thought I would right out of school. I did 2 internships with them before I graduated, and I remember being so excited and wanting to learn as much as I could!

I didn't have the best GPA in school, so that caused me to doubt myself a lot. GPA is important, but not everything. I believe that I got into Ford because of my leadership, communication skills, and eagerness to learn. Being well-rounded is important!

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love working in STEM because of the enormous opportunities I have for my future. An engineer really can do anything. Engineers are taught to think logically and solve problems, almost any industry needs that!

I wake up looking forward to being productive and learning new things. Being relatively new to the corporate world often leads me to be unsure of myself and question my abilities, but learning something new every day helps me gain confidence in my job. It is definitely still a struggle but I'm working on it!

Best advice for next generation?

Don't be afraid to do something you're passionate about, even if it isn't the cool thing or what everyone else is doing. Understand what you want to do and why you want to do it. Understanding your "why" will give you confidence and not let others' opinions bother you. You will struggle and have to overcome challenges, but don't let that get in the way of accomplishing your goals!

I failed my first college class my sophomore year and I thought my career in engineering was over. I learned from my past mistakes, re-took it over the summer and got an A-! Don't let setbacks knock you down for too long.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.”

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