ATETV Episode 32: Pushing Yourself in a New Direction

This week, we visit with a student who is pursuing a second career in Fuel Cell Technology, learn why writing and communications are as important to a technical career as math and science, and look at the traditionally male dominated field of aviation — from a woman’s viewpoint.

In our first segment, Stark State College student Dena Mayhorn describes her experience going back to school after working in the automotive industry for 20 years. “I’m in the Electrical Engineering Technology [program] and the one-year fuel cell certificate program,” explains Dena. “It is a lot of work to come back to school, to learn something new. The classes are challenging.” But Dena’s willingness to push herself to master new skills, coupled with her years of valuable work experience , make for a terrific opportunity for an exciting second career. Says Dena, “Taking classes and maintaining a life outside of school is a busy life, but it’s well worth it.”

In our second segment, we hear from employers and educators who explain why pushing yourself to develop good writing and communication skills will pay off no matter what type of technical career you are pursuing.

“One of the keys to being in a customer engineering role for EMC is communications,” explains EMC employer Todd Matthews. “You have to be on top of your communications because you are the face of EMC. So, not only [are communications important] from a face-to-face point of view, but you need to write well because a lot of communications are done through email.”

Andrew Maynard of Springfield Technical Community College agrees. “With so much communication focused on email, employees’ written skills are scrutinized more and more.” Springfield students take two English classes as part of their curriculum — writing and literature — making for a well-rounded learning experience. As EMC’s Kim Yohmann notes, you’re exposed to a wide variety of situations in the real world. “Being able to speak with the customers on the phone, or in meetings or even in a group setting [is important]. Presentation skills are big. You’re working with a lot of individuals so you definitely have to be able to communicate.”

Finally, our last segment profiles a group of women who are pushing the boundaries by actively pursuing careers in the typically male dominated field of Aviation Technology.

“It’s scary for women to think that they can go beyond their work scope and break into a primarily male dominated career, but it really isn’t hard at all,” says Karen Dorsey of Midwest Aero Support. Adds Tina Thomas of Poplar Grove Airmotive, “I think a lot of gals just don’t understand [aviation] or are a little bit afraid of it. But if they get out and actually experience it, I think they’ll fall in love with [aviation]. They’ll learn how much fun it is and why all they guys are keeping it a little bit of a hidden secret.”

Linda Clark, a student at Rock Valley Community College, is taking advantage of Rock Valley’s Aviation Technology program to learn firsthand how exciting this career can be. “The thing I’m most excited about is that I will have something to carry with me forever and that’s the knowledge and a degree — it will go anywhere with me, anywhere in the country.”

As these women are proving, pushing yourself beyond the familiar boundaries can be exhiliarating — whether you’re pursuing a change of career, learning an unfamiliar skill or literally taking to the skies!

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