Name: Luise Löskow
Job Title: Design Engineer
Company: maxon motor
Degrees: Mechanical Engineer at University of Applied Sciences in Zwickau, Germany
Talk about the culture at your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women? What do you enjoy about working there as an engineer?
First of all, it’s good to see that there are many women working throughout the maxon organization in numerous departments. maxon’s job descriptions are not gender specific and I’ve never felt that they would prefer a man other than me in my position. I like to work with so many different departments and different people. It’s interesting to be involved in so many aspects during the design development of a motor. Even if the construction itself is done, there are many other things such as the production, purchasing, handling or sales which don’t really need my expertise but I can be involved. I can improve some things and I can learn a lot with these possibilities.
What first drew you to engineering? / When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?
I explored many different interests during my teenage years. For years, I enjoyed music which included singing in a choir and playing guitar. After that, I was involved in the arts and enjoyed acting and painting. When I turned 16, all my friends had an idea what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go but I still didn’t know. My family and friends would suggest many ideas/options for me but none of them interested me. Then, while having dinner at my then-boyfriend’s house, his father was telling us about the difficulty his company was having in getting engineers. He could not understand why many young people did not want to pursue a career in engineering. It would always be an interesting field because there would always be new developments and the world is always moving forward and needs good engineers for that. So, at that moment it sounded like a good idea. I focused my studies in math and physics and decided that I would pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
Were there any influential engineers (women or men) who helped shaped your decision to become an engineer? If so, who and why?
During my first internship, I met an engineering team leader. He was young, had three children and a wife. He was hardworking but he managed his private life and work life with ease. He was so ambitious in his job and with even the most complex concepts and constructions, he would find the smallest details that might be missing in order to produce a flawless design. He was extremely creative and you could see in his eyes how much he enjoyed his job. I wanted to be just like him.
What barriers do women face in today’s engineering world, if any?
Women do face some barriers in today’s engineering world. For example, women often have to prove their engineering abilities in this male-dominated technical environment. I also believe that times are changing and these barriers will become smaller as women continue to enter the field and become recognized for their contributions and respected as engineers.
Talk about your leadership skills. What lessons have you learned?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that I have to accept people as they are. Not everyone is the same and we all have different skill sets and therefore at times we must lead differently. Being an effective leader is setting examples that others feel motivated to follow over time. My colleagues have supported me along this journey and it has given me the confidence needed to lead.
Have you worked with younger engineers as a mentor, to help them in their career? Or describe any involvement in any STEM or STEAM programs for young people.
At times, I’ve been involved with the apprenticeship program at maxon motor. I’ve worked with young apprentice engineers to assist them on difficult design challenges and other related engineering tasks. My goal is to show them some of the ways I’ve learned to approach certain difficult tasks in more of a simplified approach. I know how difficult it was when I started but learning from another’s experience is important and extremely helpful.
In your opinion, what more can be done to promote greater participation of young women in engineering today?
There’s still a lot of work to do to promote technical engineering jobs to women. It’s important to encourage young women to feel confident to explore the opportunities in this field. More importantly, today’s women engineers should be positive role models in the workplace and in their personal lives for all young and aspiring young engineers.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
Believe in yourself and trust in your abilities. Mistakes will happen but you can learn from them to improve your knowledge and become an even better engineer.
[A condensed version of this sponsored profile appears in the November “Women in Engineering” issue of Design World.]