SIMULIA is proud to work with a variety of women in the engineering field, both as employees and clients. Our new Women in Engineering series will highlight some of these outstanding contributors to the field of simulation. Today we are proud to introduce Samantha Cummiskey, a SIMULIA QA manager who ensures the quality of our fluids solver.
Q: What is your title and what are you responsible for/work on at SIMULIA?
A: My title is QA Manager for SIMULIA. In that role, I’m responsible for ensuring the quality of our fluids solver through designing tests on new functionality, carrying out those tests, and ensuring that the new functions are working properly prior to release.
Q: What makes you excited to get up and come to work every day?
A: Every day I know I’ll get to work on new challenges, new applications of computational fluid dynamics that will force me to think about things in a different way and stretch my problem-solving skills. When you have a simulation that won’t work, it’s a lot of trial and error and finally an ah-ha moment when you figure out what’s going on. That feeling, like solving a difficult math problem or getting to the top of a hike to see the view you’ve been working toward, can be very motivating.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to become an engineer and why?
A: I was always good at math and had an interest in how things worked, so it seemed to be the natural choice. I’m very lucky to have parents who insisted that I could do whatever it was I put my mind to, so I never felt that as a woman I shouldn’t be an engineer.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges or successes you have had as an engineer and particularly as a woman in engineering?
A: A common experience that I’ve heard in many women in engineering groups is a lack of confidence in your own skills. While some of this is certainly attributable to the inherent differences between men and women, I think the lack of women in engineering also feeds into that self-doubt. We don’t fit the mold of what an engineer “should” look like, therefore we are assumed lesser. I’ve often felt that when I’m new in a project or area of the company, I am assumed as less skilled than my male peers until I prove myself otherwise. Over the course of a career, it can be mentally draining to continually feel the need to prove that I am in fact qualified for the job I hold.
As far as general challenges and successes, my biggest challenge was knowing when to leave a company that I had been with for 13 years. For successes, there are definitely projects I’m proud of (a study on Brazilian oil fields comes to mind), but the successes I’ve valued most are when I can help someone succeed and improve in their job. Those moments of helping someone else through their own career to reach their full potential are the most memorable.
Q: What drives and inspires you? Maybe you can tell us about your favorite ah-ha moment?
A: My kids definitely drive me—I try to be a person that they would be proud of, live by the rules that I set for them, and ensure that my time away from them is well spent. And my husband inspires me—during a panel session someone once asked a more senior woman in the company what her advice was for other women to balance work and life. Her advice was to choose the right partner. Although that comment got a laugh, I’ve found it to be true. Having a partner who respects the demands of your career and allows space for it to develop is invaluable.
My biggest learning through my career has been the importance of people and relationships to getting work done. I’ve come to realize over the years the importance of thinking through the strategy of how to effect change in processes. And in everyday relationships, that time spent talking with your coworkers about their weekend is not wasted time—it’s laying the groundwork so that in the future you can have difficult conversations when necessary with someone you trust, which ultimately leads to a better business outcome.
Q: If you were not an engineer, what would you be?
A: Definitely a park ranger. I’m happiest when I’m outside in nature.
Q: What is the most interesting thing about you that is not on your resume?
A: I’ve never had a good answer to this question—I’m not especially interesting, but I’m ok with that.
Q: What is your favorite hobby?
A: Hiking and camping with my husband and three kids. I’ve traveled quite a bit, but given the choice to go anywhere in the world, I would go to Big Bend National Park in Texas.
Q: How do you spend time outside of work?
A: Anytime I’m not at work I’m with my husband and kids—with three kids 8 and under, it’s a lovely chaos.
Q: Please tell us how you feel about the importance of STEM/STEAM education and outreach, especially with young girls.
A: STEM/STEAM is so very important for young girls. Just 29% of the tech workforce are women—this is a disservice not only to women, but to the men that work in this industry. Study after study has shown that companies with more gender and ethnic diversity outperform those with less. And especially for computer science/computer engineering, women sometimes start college at a disadvantage because their hobbies as kids didn’t involve computer programming, unlike their male classmates. If we can provide that exposure early on then we can help to level the playing field.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: I’ve had this one up on my cube wall for almost ten years: “You’ve got to say, I think that if I keep working at this and want it badly enough I can have it. It’s called perseverance.” — Lee Iacocca.
SIMULIA offers an advanced simulation product portfolio, including Abaqus, Isight, fe-safe, Tosca, Simpoe-Mold, SIMPACK, CST Studio Suite, XFlow, PowerFLOW and more. The SIMULIA Community is the place to find the latest resources for SIMULIA software and to collaborate with other users. The key that unlocks the door of innovative thinking and knowledge building, the SIMULIA Community provides you with the tools you need to expand your knowledge, whenever and wherever.