Held in conjunction with National Engineering Week, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is designed to increase interest and celebrate women in engineering fields. This day — held each year on Feb. 21 — helps focus a growing movement to inspire women to know they have a place in engineering.
To celebrate, we sat down with Tabitha Raifsnider, daughter of Geoff Raifsnider, a mechanical engineer at Global Finishing Solutions (GFS). Exploring a future in engineering, Tabitha is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, majoring in mechanical engineering.
Q: What made you decide on engineering as your major?
A: I really enjoyed my math and physics classes in high school. Engineering is a broad degree, and it sounded interesting to me.
Q: What role did your dad play in that decision?
A: I always had a love for engineering growing up. My dad would do cool experiments in the backyard with match rockets and catapults. I always had engineering as a career path in the back of my mind because I was always around it growing up.
Q: What do you think are the most important skills to be an engineer?
A: To be successful in engineering, you don’t need to be a math whiz. I truly believe that the most important skill is critical thinking and the ability to look at a problem from different angles.
Q: What advice would you give a young girl who is considering going into engineering?
A: The most important thing is to find the time to do engineering projects for fun. It isn’t necessary to take engineering classes in high school to be successful in college, but rather to just explore engineering and do projects that you really enjoy. That’s the best way to learn.
Q: What activities are you involved in on campus?
A: I am a member of the American Foundry Society. As part of that group, I get to do both personal and retail projects, which help expand my overall knowledge of the engineering field. I am also a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and I helped organize a Women Engineer Day on campus last year.
Platteville is a small enough school that it allows me to form a community with my peers — both men and women — who are learning and having the same challenges as I am.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: Once I receive my bachelor’s degree from UW-Platteville, I plan to attend graduate school to achieve a master’s degree in naval architecture and marine engineering.
The Role of an Engineer at GFS
In addition to a complete line of pre-engineered and standard products, GFS has the capacity and experience to custom design and engineer products for the unique needs of our aerospace, automotive refinish and industrial customers. This level of variety and customization requires an expansive and experienced design and engineering team.
GFS’ in-house design and engineering team — consisting of electrical engineers, software developers, licensed structural engineers, airflow specialists, code compliance specialists, mechanical engineers and systems designers — provides pre-contract, mechanical, electrical, AutoCAD, PLC and programming abilities for standard and custom projects. Engineers at GFS ensure our products are safe, code compliant, long-lasting and meet our customers needs.