Jessica Lattimer Vold

Mechanical Engineering, M.S. (2013) Ph. D. (2015)

Research and Design Engineer - c2renew
Research Scientist - Renuvix LLC

Hometown: Chaska, MN

Now lives in: Fargo, ND

Career path: I graduated with my Aerospace Engineering degree in 2008 at the lowest point of the market so finding a job was tough. After interning my last year of school with a small business that was making flight simulators to train small engine and commercial aviation pilots on, I took a full time job with them. I was not happy with my career path so I quit my job and started graduate school at NDSU in the fall of 2009. After getting both my Master's (2013) and Doctorate (2015) in Mechanical Engineering, I took a job working for a small business that was spun out of my research at NDSU making biocomposite materials. Within the last year I have split my time with another small business spun out of NDSU research helping them complete research for government grants focused on biobased chemistry. 

What or who inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

My mother was an elementary education teacher and my father was an engineer so education was a priority in our home. While I liked reading and loved the arts, math and science were my true passions. I spent my summers attending camps with a math and science emphasis and loved every minute of it. My grandfather gifted me with a telescope many years ago and that fueled my love for space and aviation. Then, on my 13th birthday, John Glenn returned to space on STS-95 solidifying my choice to be an engineer and in particular, an aerospace engineer. 

What’s it like being a woman in a male-dominated field?

Having worked for a fortune-500 company as an intern and then moving on to smaller businesses, I have a unique perspective of females in engineering. In general, I see and experience the doubt that a female can succeed in a male dominated field, especially as a working mother. However, I work for some fantastic men that treat their female employees with an incredible amount of respect, valuing our opinions and ideas just as much as our male counterparts. While the engineering field has come a long way in accepting females as equals, there is a lot of work to be done and the entrepreneurship community of small businesses is blazing the trail for talented females in engineering. 

What advice would you give to young girls interested in engineering?

Do what you feel passionate about and don't let anyone tell you you can't do it. There are some incredible females that have blazed a trail for us in engineering and they want nothing more than for you to follow your heart and show the world what you can do. 

What’s your best memory from NDSU?

All the chances I had to volunteer for Bison BEST Robotics, it's fun to see the next generation of engineers develop their love for engineering and critical thinking.

 How did your NDSU education prepare you for your career?

My education prepared me to be a life long learner. The knowledge you gain at the university is just the fundamentals of engineering, any job specific knowledge is learned while you work which means you need to be willing to learn new things all the time. 

What first got you interested in engineering?

Bill Nye the Science Guy and summer camps geared towards math and science

Does your gender give you a different perspective and experience from your male counterparts?

Yes, but only because I'm a working breastfeeding mother. I have to have good time management skills to complete my work and take care of all my children's needs without spending too much time at the office. 

What’s the biggest misconception about your job?

That I work in a male dominated company. We have male executives and a male intern, but all our staff engineers are female!

What advice would you give to female college students just getting started in the NDSU engineering program?

Don't be afraid to show how smart you are and how passionate you are about engineering. You never know who you might inspire to achieve their dreams by showing that you are not intimidated by being in a male dominated field.

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