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These Huntsville Moms in Manufacturing show what’s possible for girls seeking STEM careers

These Huntsville Moms in Manufacturing show what’s possible for girls seeking STEM careers

  • Women make up about 47% of the labor force, but only 26% of the manufacturing workforce.
  • 4 out of 10 girls say they don't get enough practical experience in STEM activities.
  • Celebrate these moms and discover local STEM programs that prepare girls seeking manufacturing careers.

Huntsville’s reputation as a “space place” is undeniably part of this area’s identity, and with that comes a demand for more people in the manufacturing industry in North Alabama. With a 75% shortage of skilled manufacturing workers looming, opportunities for a manufacturing career path are huge. But there are still plenty of challenges and stereotypes that face women in the male-dominated manufacturing industry, especially when you’re a mom in manufacturing.

Lyndsay Ferguson, Vice President of Workforce at the Huntsville Madison County Chamber, knows firsthand how important it is to attract more women to STEM and Manufacturing fields. “As our manufacturing base grows in Huntsville, it’s increasingly important to have women represented in all manufacturing roles! Manufacturing is a technology-rich, innovative industry. The women in manufacturing make their businesses and teams stronger with diverse perspective and experiences, and serve as role models for the next generation of women in the workplace.”

Here at Rocket City Mom, we love to highlight local moms doing awesome things. These Huntsville Moms in manufacturing are truly remarkable, and busting up stereotypes for girls in future STEM careers. Each mom below is from a different local company, and all are mothers in the industry!

Huntsville Moms In Manufacturing

Fun Fact: Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) is a technical term for a holistic solution that provides full visibility into manufacturing processes so you can steadily improve manufacturing operations performance. Coincidence? We think not.

Cynthia Warren

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, 1.5 years
Team Member, Paint Shop ED Lab

“It is amazing to see how all of our systems and processes work together.”

Cynthia’s job responsibilities include operating, monitoring and maintaining the PT/ED (Phosphate/Electro-Deposition) system, which is the first layer of rust protection that is applied to a vehicle.

When she started, Cynthia didn’t have a background in manufacturing, other than her experience in administration. When she was hired at MTM, she first trained at Toyota Kentucky for 12 weeks to prepare to work with MTM’s paint system. She said she looks for every opportunity to learn and grow in her position, and appreciates the coaching and mentoring she receives from leadership. She is currently in the application process to become a Team Leader at MTM.


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Darlene Parks

RF Welding Technician, 31 years
Tara Pools & Outdoor Products

Darlene’s super power? She’s a Welding Technician!

Darlene’s job is to assemble the individual pieces of a pool liner to form the walls and floor of the pool. This involves reading the work order and verifying that the pattern and serial number all match up, then welding the pieces together using an RF welding machine. Darlene also assists the marketing department, organizes the sample assembly process and helps distribute samples, brochures and literature. In her spare time, she enjoys working out and spending time with her grandkids.

Jenny Alcantara-Collins

Manufacturing Engineer, 3 years
The Boeing Company

Jenny is a Manufacturing Engineer at The Boeing Company

Jenny’s job at Boeing is to implement production and tooling methods and participate in Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) to integrate technical solutions across multiple disciplines.

Originally from the Dominican Republic and one of five daughters, Jenny now lives in Huntsville with her husband Ronnie and adorable eleven year-old son, Diego. Jenny has an Associates in Industrial Electronics and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Electronics Engineering, with plans to further her career to the Senior Engineer level.

Karen Elaine Nixon

Material Control Analyst 1, Section Manager, 9 years
Dynetics

This mother of two is also a grandmother of two!

Karen’s role is to provide leadership and vision to a team of ten extraordinary Material Planners. Ultimately, her job is to work with cross functional teams and departments to ensure all hardware builds have adequate planning support and access to the materials to meet their build requirements. Karen plays a key role in identifying and solving material, manpower, and capacity constraints while ensuring the team is delivering a superb quality product for the lowest possible cost.

“My husband and I waited very late in life to pursue our goal of obtaining a higher education. We both managed to finish all courses and graduated together in December of 2018. My age at graduation was 47 and my husband was 51. This just shows it is never too late to pursue your goals and dreams.” Karen graduated with Honors, Bachelor’s Degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Athens State University.

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Kristy Shoulders

Composite Technician 2, 1 year 3 months
Aerojet Rocketdyne AMF

Kristy loves to watch comedies with her family during her down time.

Kristy works on the production of missile defense products that help protect our military service members. This mother of four young men is originally from West Virginia and has lived here in Alabama for 11 years. She attended college at West Virginia University and has a background in management for eight years, as well as three years in automotive manufacturing before coming to Aerojet Rocketdyne. In the future, Kristy plans to continue to further her career with the company into management.


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Penny Cowan

Lean Process Tech, 2.5 years
Polaris

Penny has had perfect attendance at Polaris for the full 2.5 years she has worked there!

Penny’s job is to make the operator’s jobs easier. She assists with time-studies, station layouts and more – all with the goal to eliminate waste and make the processes leaner. This mother of two boys first started at Polaris as an assembly operator. She was promoted to a group lead position and stayed in that role for almost a year before her promotion to her current role of Lean Process Technician.

Facts & Local Resources for Women & Girls in Manufacturing

(According to GLAM)

  • Women make up about 47% of the labor force, but only 26% of the manufacturing workforce.
  • 4 out of 10 girls say they don’t get enough practical experience in STEM activities.
  • On average, full-time employees in the manufacturing industry have an annual salary of $54,861.
  • The first Friday in October is National Manufacturing Day! MFG Day helps show the reality of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders.
  • WiM Alabama is dedicated to providing year-round support to women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry.
  • UAH is hosting a Girls in Science & Engineering Day for girls in 3rd – 5th grades in April of 2022. Get more info & save the date!
  • Girls Inc. Huntsville leads a Eureka! program that focuses on a whole-girl approach to career & college readiness in Manufacturing & STEM fields for rising 8th graders.
  • Huntsville STEM Stars have some advice for girls seeking STEM and Manufacturing careers.
  • Girls interested in a welding career can check out the brand new dual-enrollment Craft Academy Welding Program that Madison City Schools will be offering Spring of 2022. Huntsville City Schools students can explore their Welding Technology Academy.

 


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