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On the Right Track
Whether you’re talking about cars, trucks or off-road vehicles, there are plenty of opportunities in the world of automotive engineering.
Working respectively at FCA US, Subaru, Polaris, Peterbilt and Daimler Trucks, all five engineers profiled here became interested in vehicles at an early age.
One grew up near an automobile plant. The others shared their interest with their fathers or with friends. But for all of them, that early interest led to a successful career in the automotive industry.
Discover more about these engineers who are on the road to success and are paving the way for other woman engineers in this resurging and innovative sector.
Teeple’s Childhood Ambition Pays Off at FCA US
Even before she was 10 years old and living in a house just behind the plant where Chrysler assembled its automobiles in her native Mexico City, Virginia Teeple was fascinated by automobiles.
“I told my mom and my grandma that one day I was going to work [at Chrysler] and build vehicles. My mom hugged me and told me ‘Yes you will. You will go to school and become an engineer’.” From that day it was my goal to be an engineer and work for Chrysler,” she recalls about her early ambition to join Chrysler, now FCA US or Fiat Chrysler, but still known commonly as that iconic brand.
And that’s exactly what Teeple did, earning her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Prior to her graduation, she did an internship at Bendix Corporation, where she was a member of its heavy air brake system team. She was hired by Bendix as a project engineer after she graduated, the first woman installing that brake system at its assembly plant in Monterrey, Mexico. In 1998 Chrysler was her client.
She moved to Chrysler as the first female production supervisor, where she led 36 employees “working on the body shop assembly line that I used to see from the patio of the house where I grew up.” Her dream had come true!
She initially came aboard at Chrysler in 1999 as a production supervisor, remaining there for a year, after which she moved to the U.S. to complete her studies in English as a second language (ESL). Following that, and after working for two different companies, she rejoined Chrysler in 2010, working at the company as a contract employee within the powertrain team. Nine months later, she became a full-time employee as fleet manager supervisor.
In this position, Teeple says, she managed a 16-member fleet support team and was tasked with overseeing “all operations for a fleet of 6,000 engineering development and executive vehicles, encompassing maintenance, accountability, safety, usage planning and delivery.” She adds that she was responsible for the fleet administration standards and vehicle operating policies.
She says that Auburn Hills, MI-headquartered Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) offers its employees extensive training, classes and mentoring programs. When she joined a mentoring program, she was coached, and she received exposure and visibility within the company. It was the mentoring experience that encouraged her to take her current position in the electrical team.
In April 2014 Teeple became project chief in the FCA US Uconnect Product Development area, where she’s now tasked with guaranteeing the development of the Uconnect system (its components are the radio, instrument panel, antenna, speaker, telematics box module and all display units) in accordance with quality, time and cost objectives, while ensuring compliance with technical requirements. It’s a position she still holds today.
She explains that while deadlines and project scope changes can sometimes present a challenge, she enjoys the planning, testing, validation and implementation involved in the development of the connectivity systems in the vehicle.
Teeple has been working in the automotive industry for the past 20 years, during which she’s participated in numerous volunteer projects. She’s currently on the board of the FCA US Latins in Connection (LinC) organization, one of the company’s seven business resource groups.
“This has given me the opportunity to participate in several volunteer projects, such as Operation Joy, where we select a Hispanic family in need and give them presents right before Christmas,” she points out.
Another volunteer project in which she participates is visiting high school students to discuss challenges they face and encourage them to “dream big.”
That’s essentially the same advice she’d give to engineers interested in a career in the automotive industry. For them she adds, “If you want to work in the automotive industry, then be passionate about vehicles and the people that will drive them.”
Follow FCA US career paths at fcanorthamerica.com/Careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr.
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