Women of the Year

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Two outstanding young women, Kimberly Renee Brantley, of Orangeburg, S.C., and Jamie Lynn Taylor, of Bullhead City, Ariz., have been chosen Woman of the Year for A and B sections, respectively, at Kettering University. Finalists for the awards include:

Helen Elizabeth Deibel, of Brighton, Mich.,
Terri LaChelle Dowell, of Memphis, Tenn.,
Rosa Linke, of Missouri City, Tex.,
Melissa Balmaceda Lopez, of San Diego, Calif.,
Cassandra Ann Piippo, of St. Ignace, Mich.,
Sanja Sljivar, of Zavar, Croatia,
LaRitta DeWinn Webb, of Gary, Ind., and
Ann Elizabeth Yong, of Auburn, Mich.,

All were honored at a dinner on campus Sept. 3.

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Kimberly Brantley is Woman of the Year for A Section. She is a senior majoring in Computer Engineering. Brantley is a member of Phi Eta Sigma national freshman honor society, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the National Society of Black Engineers and Black Unity Congress.

In addition to campus-related organizations, she volunteers regularly at the North End Soup Kitchen and the Eastern Michigan Food Bank, and participates in the youth group at Ebenezer Ministries in Flint.

Her co-op employer is Delphi Delco. Brantley is currently working on her Senior Thesis with the Controls Engineering group at Delphi Delco.

Her leadership experiences include President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Junior Representative of Phi Eta Sigma, Residence Hall Adviser, Residence Hall Tutor, Academically Interested Minorities (AIM) pre-college program Resident Adviser and Tutor.

Brantley said of being chosen Woman of the Year for A Section "I am very honored to receive this title. I plan to use it to show everyone that no matter what life may throw you, good things do come to people who work hard and pray.

Her advice to young women interested in engineering and technical careers is "Let's forget that we are minorities! Class, race, and gender are meaningless. What really matters is your desire to learn and the true character that you possess."

Citing her gender as an advantage in engineering, Brantley said, "The best thing about being a woman is that we think differently. We tend to be more detailed, more cautious, and more caring. These qualities come in really handy when you're stuck in the middle of a tedious project and can't find that last tiny mistake. The most challenging thing is working with a bunch of guys who want to scrap the entire project and start over."

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Jamie Taylor is Woman of the Year for B Section. She is a senior and will graduate in December 2003. Taylor is majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Bioengineering.

Taylor is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority, Student Alumni Council, Kappa Mu Epsilon Math Honor Society and a Discover Kettering volunteer. She recently became involved with the Kettering Firebirds car enthusiast club in addition to the Women's Resource Center, the Technician student newspaper, Phi Eta Sigma national freshman honor society and Campus Crusade for Christ. During her tenure at Kettering Taylor also has been involved with the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, the Formula SAE Race Team, and the Lives Improve Through Engineering (LITE) Program.

Taylor has been a Red Cross Blood Donor for five years, was involved with the Habitat for Humanity ShedWorks project on campus, volunteered for Junior Achievement, the Southeast Michigan Food Bank, the Genesee County Free Medical Clinic, the Women's Shelter of Flint and at Hurley Medical Center.

She recently joined the Michigan Grand Prix Club as a way of pursuing her passion for cars. In July of 2002 she participated in the International Institute for Women in Engineering for two weeks in Paris, France, with five other Kettering women.

Taylor's co-op employer is General Motors Metal Fabricating Division Headquarters in Troy, Mich., where she works on issues related to metal forming machinery within the corporation. She is currently finishing up her thesis about predictive maintenance systems and their role in protecting large capital equipment.

Taylor's leadership experience includes Vice President of Programming and Ritual, Housing Manager, Steward, and Assistant Treasurer for Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, President of Kettering's chapter of SAE, Business and Sponsorship Manager of Formula SAE, Administrative Assistant of Student Alumni Council and Treasurer of Kappa Mu Epsilon Math Honor Society.

Taylor said of being chosen Woman of the Year for B Section: "This award is an amazing honor. I was thrilled to even be nominated for the award, let alone to acquire the title of Woman of the Year. It is quite a compliment to have my name associated with women like Amy Sanborn, Laurie Scott, Rebecca Barthlow, and Heather Lindell, especially considering the great contributions they made to this school. I hope that I will be able to use this position to inspire other women to achieve their personal bests and to realize the potential they have."

Her advice to young women interested in engineering and technical careers is "I think that the decision for a woman to enter a "traditionally male" field like engineering is a very personal one. For women, engineering and other technical fields present a number of unique challenges that aren't always obvious at first. Issues like being able to deal with family and friends who doubt your choice, how to balance work and a family, and how to deal with sexual harassment and discrimination are real and do come up. I think it's important that young women understand these special considerations and take them into account when making their decision, and the best way to do this is for them to find a female mentor in engineering who can help guide them."

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"For me, one of the best things about being in engineering is that it gives me a constant challenge in both school and work assignments," said Taylor. "It allows me to use and develop the gifts that I have and make a good living doing it. That, and it's nice to be able to surprise male friends with your technical expertise!

"Engineering obviously is a challenging field, but being a woman in engineering can be even harder," she said. Taylor indicated there are two main issues that she struggles with as an engineer: "First, I often find that it's assumed that I won't be able to handle a large responsibility, and that I have to prove myself more often than some of my male counterparts. The more technical an assignment, the more I find this to be true. The second major issue for me is in trying to balance my life goals of having a family and of advancing in my company. While these aren't necessarily mutually exclusive goals, it is a delicate balance that is difficult to reach," Taylor said.

Written by Dawn Hibbard