How did you decide on a career in engineering?
“I grew up in western Kansas and had never heard of engineering. In school I was pretty good at math and science and I really enjoyed science fairs. I took one of those career assessments in high school and was matched with an engineering career. I loved agricultural equipment, so I partnered that with my love of science. I went to Kansas University with the goal of designing agricultural equipment. After graduation, I moved to the Quad Cities and worked on combines for Case IH. I came to Vermeer in search of a different challenge.”
Describe your day-to-day work.
“As a design engineer, our main job is to bring products to market. The product manager gives us the specification, and we design the components to meet the customer need. Currently, I split my time between design and quality work.”
Why do you like working in engineering?
“I like the problem-solving nature of it. But I also like bringing new products to market to fit customer needs, hearing their feedback and understanding how we can change this or that about a new product to meet the needs of their operation. I really enjoy the time I get with our end customers through field testing or through voice of customer where we get to hear their feedback directly, what would they like to see improved and even what do they really like and not want changed.
“I also really like the different people I get to interact with too, more so now with the quality side I'm doing, but even before with the design role. By working with manufacturing engineers, quality managers, service and sales, as well as other engineering groups, I get to learn best practices. Sometimes we even get to support a trade show and put on our sales hats on.”
What’s your favorite part about engineering at Vermeer?
“One of the coolest things for me is seeing an idea take shape. A lot of times, things start as a concept or idea, a sketch on paper, we make a model — maybe we 3D print a portion or prototype it, and then it's released and built on the production floor. Then, I’m standing at a trade show right next to it, seeing a customer buy it and eventually operate it out in their field, performing as intended. For me personally, the cherry on top is making a scale model of it to have on my desk.
“I also like the hands-on nature that engineering is at Vermeer — being involved in initial phases, to prototype builds, time in the field with testing and problem solving. I like to be able to roll up my sleeves, get out there and see what needs to be fixed.”
What advice do you have for someone interested in a career in engineering?
“First off, engineers use a lot of math. Do you like math? Is it something you think you could develop? Also, the science and problem solving behind it. Something I see in myself that I would recommend is trying out new things. There are so many times problem solving can lead to looking at problems differently. The other thing is that the people who make it in engineering really have a vision with what they want to do with it.”