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Truth Has No Color

Where the light is brightest, the shadows are deepest. My career has been blessed to see more good days than bad ones, but I haven’t been immune to the ugly side of inclusion. I’m sharing this example below with hopes that we can all adjust our lenses to #embRACE our differences, whether it be race, age, gender or educational background.

This 3D rendering is the production line that I helped to design and it’s also where I meet my first diversity challenge.

I had to go deep into the archives for this story but in my first engineering job, I experienced a situation in where production was halted to due to having quality issues.  

The superintendent requested that I adjust the parameters to overcome the problem.  Even though I was a young engineer, my ethics would not allow me not be dishonest in changing my calculated specifications.  He said he’d give me 15 mins “to get my (expletive) machines working”. I wasn’t upset because I was more focused on the problem not his ignorance.

I had planned months for the startup of the new products … I had done my calculations even did cross reference checks.

Twenty minutes later he came back and this time with a vengeance, “if you don’t change the (expletive) parameters I’m gonna run your (expletive) out of this plant … these new engineers don’t know what the hell they’re doing, what school did you come from anyway?”

He said much more but I think you get the point.

I felt angry, disrespected, embarrassed, and confused but what hurt the most was all of the operators and some of my colleagues were there to witness me being dehumanized. I told him that he could do whatever he wanted to with his production line but if he wanted subpar settings then he’d have to find another engineer because I was not going leave there until I found the root cause.

Five minutes later my manager and advocate comes on the scene and asked if I had it under control and he encouraged me to take as long as I needed. I told him about the condescending comments, and he said don’t worry about it I got your back.

Long story short, my mentor and I investigated the failures over the next hour and discovered that the design engineer made a typo in the bill of materials. If not addressed, the failures could have caused millions of dollars in warranty losses.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, trust your gut and fight through the layers of diversity challenges no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way.

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