As a woman engineer in her 20s, I understand I am not the typical face of engineering," explains SWE Winner Alexis Ulmer, but "It's getting better every year."
Alexis works inside the Intel Module Repair group, where no two days are alike. She credits her success as a young person in technology to the strong women in her life. "Throughout my educational journey and career, I have always been surrounded by strong, intelligent women, both non-technical and technical. I heavily rely on them through phone calls and one on one time together. They have been incredibly influential and even supported me while persevering through difficult moments."
Below, SWE winner Alexis Ulmer shares her experiences as an Intel engineer and talks about the importance of empowered female mentorship in her career.
Tell us a little about what you do and what a typical day looks like.
No two days inside the Intel Module Repair group ever look the same. Within our machine shop, I can field challenges from across the entirety of Intel with my team of machinists and engineers. My day-to-day is spent talking to internal customers from all factory positions and developing solutions with my team from concept to manufacturing. From vibrational analysis, material compatibility with factory processes to utilizing 3D scanning to reverse engineer parts, no two projects are ever the same. It keeps me learning and developing my skills every day. It is always so exciting to see the customer's relief when a project is resolved, and I am proud of the staggering amount of cost savings we bring to Intel.
Did you always know you wanted to work in technology? How did you decide to go into engineering?
Not at all! Going into college, I didn't quite know where I wanted to end up. My passion has always been helping others, and not knowing which path to choose, I thought a business degree would be a safe bet. After a semester of business courses, I didn't feel there was an obvious path from a business degree to directly helping others in a way I enjoyed being challenged, so I changed majors to biomedical engineering. I excelled in the math classes, but organic chemistry had different plans for my GPA. After that, I chose mechanical engineering and am so happy that I ended up here.
Many women in the tech industry feel that their gender has affected how they are perceived or treated. Have you also felt this, and how did you handle it?
Of course, I feel it almost every day. As a woman engineer in her 20s, I understand I am not the typical face of engineering you see around Intel. It is usually someone assuming my name is Alex or taking a second to realize yes, I am the engineer working on your project, and no, it's not Mr. Ulmer. I take it very lightheartedly and know there was no malicious intent. I enjoy being a face of diversity in the workplace. I am grateful to work at a company that promotes diversity and inclusion in its company values.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The mentors, employee resource groups, and managers that advocate for us.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that's the case?
Of course. It's getting better every year, but traditionally women aren't properly empowered to follow a path in the STEM world.
Many women in the tech industry consider themselves introverts. Are you an introvert, and if so, what is the most difficult thing about being an introvert in the tech industry? How did you overcome it?
I consider myself an introverted person, and the biggest challenge in my role is being an individual technical contributor while also fulfilling customer service requirements. I overcame this challenge by utilizing Intel's mental health resources, taking short breaks frequently, and developing a step-by-step system to make customer service flow in a way that fits within my solution-oriented thought process.
Is there a female technologist you admire who has influenced your career journey and choices?
Honestly, throughout my educational journey and career, I have always been surrounded by strong, intelligent women, both non-technical and technical. I heavily rely on them through phone calls and one on one time together. They have been incredibly influential and even supported me while persevering through difficult moments.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
I would encourage all women to do what they are passionate about, even if they don't look like everyone else in the room. I wish I would have known earlier on just how many people are out there willing to support me on my journey.
Tell us about your recent patent and the impact your patent may have.
Currently, my design is in a Patent pending state, AD3926-US. My team and I have designed a mechanical keyed lockout system, preventing an incorrect chemical probe from pressurizing the chemical bottle in a manufacturing process tool. The lockout system protects 150+ lithography chemicals.
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