Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Maria Cecília de Castro Breda

Cecília de Castro Breda was recognized for boundless energy in support of women engineers in Brazil and the United States; and for forging international connections among women in STEM.
Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Maria Cecília de Castro Breda

The Society of Women Engineers is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month September 15 - October 15.

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Maria Cecília de Castro Breda
Maria Cecília de Castro Breda

Maria Cecília de Castro Breda of John Deere is the recipient of the Society of Women Engineers' 2017 Distinguished New Engineer award. She was recognized for expertise in hydraulics systems; for boundless energy in support of women engineers in Brazil and the United States; and for forging international connections among women in STEM.

Breda is a supplier quality engineer at the John Deere Power Systems division in Waterloo, Iowa, where she is responsible for all low-and high-pressure fuel systems parts on engines. She is finishing an international assignment in the U.S. that began in 2015 when she accepted a role as a hydraulic design engineer in the tractors division.

A native of Brazil, Breda built the foundation of her business and engineering education early with the essential support of her parents to pursue her interests in math and science. While she was still in high school, she completed two technical certificates — one in quality management and one in surveying — both from the Universidade de Campinas (UNICAMP). She went on to earn a B.S. in chemical engineering from the Universidade Metodista de Piracicaba (UNIMEP), an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Southern Methodist University (SMU), and an MBA from Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV). When she was an undergraduate, Breda noticed that many students abandoned the program because of difficulties with calculus. She became a teaching assistant in calculus, and many students have cited her help as the reason they stayed in engineering.

Breda joined John Deere in 2011 and went into the engineering rotation program in Moline, Illinois. Her initial assignment was in crop harvesting, where she worked on the company’s first diesel electric power train for harvesting machines. Her contributions resulted in a 15 percent increase in machine productivity and a 4 percent reduction in fuel consumption. She received a John Deere Global Innovation Award for her work on this project.

In 2013, Breda went to Horizontina, Brazil, to work on the new S-series combine as a manufacturing

engineer responsible for hydraulics. In this position, she developed a new sequence of events for all hydraulic components, led engineers in India and the United States, and trained assembly line operators. In 2014, after the successful implementation of the new combine, she moved to operations as a supervisor, one of only two women at the plant to hold this position. Thanks to her coaching and support, Breda’s weld team increased productivity by approximately 50 percent.

Breda first learned about SWE in 2012 while working at John Deere in Illinois. She joined immediately and has been an active and enthusiastic member ever since. She is currently the alternate international senator, ambassador for Brazil, and part of the leadership coaching committee international task force. She was also a member of the governance task force who developed the plan to streamline the SWE governance structure that will be implemented soon.

When she moved to Brazil in 2013, Breda helped found SWE’s first international affiliate in the country, Rio Grande do Sul – Oeste. She served as vice-president and president and helped two other groups seeking to establish in Brazil by advising them on the application process. Highly motivated to reach out to women engineers in Brazil and to expand the SWE presence there, Breda is working with SWE headquarters to establish a roundtable, to develop a partnership between SWE and SAE International with aspirations to hold a WE local in Brazil in the future.

In her free time, Breda enjoys traveling, biking, and spending time with her family.