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A Day in the Life of Manufacturing Engineer Elizabeth Walker

Meet Elizabeth Walker, a manufacturing engineer at General Motors. Find out how she got there and the types of projects she’s working on in her current role. #BeThatEngineer

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A Day in the Life of Manufacturing Engineer Elizabeth Walker

I’ve always had a curiosity and fascination for how things worked. In middle school, we were asked to do a project to demonstrate how something works. While everyone else was choosing cell phones or video games, I chose to research the zipper, because I was so amazed by how such a simple invention had changed everyday life. From that project, I knew I wanted to invent or engineer solutions to everyday problems.

I received my Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University. Studying mechanical engineering gave me important problem solving and critical thinking skills that have allowed me to explore a variety of engineering disciplines and varying career opportunities. Then, while working full time, I studied at the University of Michigan and received a Master’s degree in manufacturing engineering.

In my role as a manufacturing engineer, I design and build the tooling and system required for building our vehicles at General Motors. Last year I led a project to transform an SUV plant into a truck plant in six months. During the six months of converting the plant, I worked to design and build tools that are used to install parts to the truck; I worked with construction companies to get equipment installed, and I worked with plant operators to refine processes and problem solve any issues with building the vehicle.

Every day as a manufacturing engineer is different. I am constantly working to resolve issues so that we can build the world’s best vehicles. I love that every day has new challenges and problems to solve. The manufacturing environment is fast-paced and the problems we solve need quick solutions so that we are providing the best product to the customer. We always get to see the results of our solutions in our vehicles and how our customers react when they buy one. It’s very rewarding.

headshot of Elizabeth Walker
Elizabeth Walker

As a young woman in a male-dominated career field, there are certainly challenges. When I started, I felt like I had to fight to be heard but was also scared to speak up with an idea that might fail. I learned that I had to stand up for my ideas and be willing to fail…and then fail fast. I had to make mistakes, learn from them, have the ability to admit it and work to fix it. I gained a lot of respect from my peers in the confidence I had to make decisions, even when it wasn’t the popular decision, as long as I held myself accountable.

Be Bold. Stand up for who you are and for your ideas. If you believe in yourself, others will follow along.

Be Bold. Stand up for who you are and for your ideas. If you believe in yourself, others will follow along.

Elizabeth Walker | manufacturing engineer, General Motors

  • Richard Johnston says:

    Liz did an exceptional job with this project. The scope of what she accomplished has never been done in the limited timeframe that was given….and may never be done again. Liz and the team have set the bar extremely high. Great work!

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