All hail our CAD QUEEN 👑
Welcome to “Pursuit of STEM”, an interview series for Every Women in Technology blog.
Author: Amy Gritzinger
Whether you’re just starting out in your engineering career, midway through, or looking for an industry change, this series will shine a light on colleagues with various perspectives. Girls in K-12 are watching and it’s not too soon to get them interested in STEM education! From here, we can provide support and resources at the collegiate level, then eventual career pathways. My mission is to impact young girl and inspire them to take more STEM classes. This article series will focus on issues women engineers face getting into the field and areas where improvements can be made to retain women. The interviewees bring their own personal experiences, opinions, and hopes for what’s to come.
Meet Rosemary Astheimer, BSME, MSE: Assistant Professor of Practice in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University, author, Mom, and CAD QUEEN!
“Making it look easy is the hardest thing in the world to do.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach
Rosemary makes it look easy with a practical approach to teaching, backed by 15 years of industry experience with leading CAD systems like CATIA V4, V5, NX, SolidWorks, and Creo. Her program trains both undergraduate and industry professionals in CAD design, MBD, PDM and PLM.
👑 2016 she earned a Technologist Level Professional Certification in GDTP (Y14.5) - Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing from ASME.
👑 2019 she was the recipient of the Excellence in Instruction for Continuing Lecturers for outstanding undergraduate teaching on the West Lafayette campus.
👑 2020 she was appointed to the board of directors for the Digital Metrology Standards Consortium.
Astheimer, R.L. (2021). Model-Based Definition in the Product Lifecycle. KDP. Seattle, WA.
Astheimer, R.L. (2016). Re-Use Your CAD: The ModelCHECK Handbook. KDP. Seattle, WA.
Q: What motivated you to go into STEM as a career?
Rosemary: I liked math. I had to work hard at it, but I liked it.
I also love to see how things work. Some of my favorite examples are DaVinci's simple machines.
Q: Did you have a mentor or role model encouraging you along the way? If so, what is the most memorable advice
Rosemary: I didn’t have an official mentor but wish I had. I looked up to my math teachers in junior high and high school. One of my earliest memories was loving geometry and my geometry teacher telling us how geometry could be applied in everyday life.
A bit of advice that would have been helpful was to emphasize that college is not high school. If you didn’t have to work hard in HS to get good grades, that might not be the case in college. More will be expected of you.
Q: What are qualities of a successful mentorship program for girls?
Rosemary: While I don’t think a girl’s mentor has to be a female, it can be helpful because they have firsthand experience being a woman in the ,especially in engineering where the ratio of women to men is an average of 1:10. I’ve been in many meetings where I have been the only woman in the room, but I don’t have a problem with that. I find it empowering to show that woman are just as capable of doing great things.
Scheduling regular meetings with your mentor is a good thing. Often students are afraid to speak up and ask for advice or help when they need it. Regular meetings will ensure these questions don’t go unanswered.
Q: How did you make the shift from Industry to Teaching? Looking back would you have done anything differently?
Rosemary: In one word, I made the shift to academia through networking. I met many people when I was in industry and connected to them on LinkedIn. When I was looking for work I posted a message that I was looking for a new opportunity and one of my connections at Purdue, now the head of my department, contacted me.
I spent a good bit of my career doing training classes and pre-sales so I already had some teaching experience. They weren’t classes that were 16 weeks long with hundreds of students but it had prepared me for teaching at Purdue.
I don’t regret working in industry one bit. It gave me “real-world” experiences that I use to educate my students.
Q: What does the future of Metrology look like? (AI, Industry 4.0, Digital Twin, Smart Factories etc.)
Rosemary: The future is the next industrial revolution, called Industry 4.0, and it's happening right now. This is when information is defined in digital format, and that information can be shared and translated into formats that are appropriate for various tasks. For example, the data may contain information that can be converted into instructions that a machine can understand to make or inspect a part. Or it could be output to a file that might be used by a mom and pop shop so they have what they need to provide services. All the while this data sharing is happening, data about the processes can be collected to monitor and learn how processes can be improved or maintained to run smoothly.
Q: It's proven when young girls are encouraged early and often, they'll likely stick with STEM education. How can professionals encourage parents to help kids pursue STEM education?
Rosemary: Enroll their kids in STEM camps. First robotics provides opportunities for kids K – 12 to go through a problem solving project that uses STEM concepts to deliver a product that is fun. https://www.firstinspires.org
Q: How does Purdue promote your program downstream to build a pipeline?
Rosemary: We have lots of different ways to get students into our programs. There is a Purdue Polytechnic HS in Muncie, IN where students accepted into a program to take classes that earn them college credit. In fact, the introduction to CAD (Computer Aided Design) class I’m teaching this semester will have a handful of these students in it. Most of the students in that program will come to Purdue when they graduate.
Q: Does Purdue work with industry for job fairs, internships, Lunch&Learns, guest speakers from industry to connect abstract science concepts to practical uses in life?
Rosemary: We have many industry connections through our Digital Enterprise Center https://polytechnic.purdue.edu/digital-enterprise-center which brings industry and academia together to enhance manufacturing competitiveness. We also have career fairs and connections in industry that reach out to us looking for students to join their companies when they graduate.
Q: Do you think the US will ever fully adopt the Metric System?
Rosemary: To make such a change is a huge undertaking and there would have to be a very good reason to go through that effort and with that effort comes a price tag. You don’t just flip a switch and change how you do things. You have to document such changes and ensure that those you are working for are on board with the change. If they haven’t made the change yet, it might prevent you from making the change. You know the saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” I’m not convinced it will happen, at least not in my lifetime.
Q: Your students must adore you, prerecorded on-demand lessons saves classroom time for hands on experiments and problem solving. What is one thing about your college program you want young girls to know?
Rosemary: For the most part I think the students do enjoy the format of the class, wthich we call “flipping the classroom.” However, some students do find it difficult to set their own schedules and do the work on their own. It's the same in everyday life. Things get busy and you find an excuse not to do something and suddenly you haven’t finished things that you planned on doing.
With our program or any college programs students should not be afraid to speak up and ask for help. Get to know your professors, go to their office hours and talk to them. At the end of the day they are your biggest advocate and will be able to help guide you during your studies and after you graduate.
Q: How can industry help your curriculum and classroom? Guess speakers, technology donations, align what’s taught for skills hands on learning.
Rosemary: All of the above. I maintain many relationships with industry professionals that I met during my career and work with their companies to bring their software into the classroom. When possible I invite them to our lab to give a short talk about what they do and why it's important. Also, through the Digital Enterprise Center regular meetings are set up that allow industry to tell us what is happening and to give those professionals the opportunity to tell us what skills they would like our graduates have to better prepare them, so they can hit the ground running when they enter the workforce.
Q: Digital scanners today can collect millions of points per second. CAD files can also tax memory resources. What does the future of cloud data storage and protection look? Do you have ideas for “big data” sustainable storage?
Rosemary: Yes, technology makes it very easy to collect a lot of data and fast, but there is a point of diminishing return. At some point, more data doesn’t give you more insight and won’t provide any better information than with a smaller set of data points.
As for storage of data, this out of my area of expertise, but compared to what it cost 10 years ago, it's very inexpensive, so having more data than was collected in the past is not a big deal. Security is something that will always be a concern. With more apps being made available in the cloud this does open up a level of risk for companies using such technology, but there are companies that also focus on those problems.
Q: Why is Metrology important to daily life?
Rosemary: Verifying that products were produced as expected is twofold in my opinion. For consumer products like parts of a coffee maker, it helps the company is making the products efficiently, not producing faulty parts, which ultimately keeps cost of the product down. The second, in more critical products like aircraft and automotive, is that it helps keep us safe. They too want to make sure the parts are produced as defined and at an efficient rate, but if the safety of human lives are at stake, metrology provides another level of verification.
Q: How can associations and professional societies get more students interested in Metrology? (Campus events, online content, free/discounted access to training?)
Rosemary: First, educate them on what it is, how it's done and why it's important. Most of my students aren't’ aware of the steps that a product goes through during its lifecycle. Any training, education and certificates show that the students have an understanding of the concepts and are a great way to give credibility to their knowledge.
Q: What are you really good at (conflict resolution, mentoring, troubleshooting, project management, public speaking, etc.)
Rosemary: I think troubleshooting is what I am strongest at and what has helped make me successful. However, that’s not because I know everything. Often people expect that they should have the answer right away, but that isn’t necessary. You have to be like an investigator and think about the pieces of information you have or know where to look to find more information to bring that knowledge together. We have the world at our finger tips now, and it always surprises me how many people will come to me with a question and did not go to Google first! And once you learn something that you think you might not remember, write it down! I keep a MS OneNote notebook of questions that come up semi-frequently but not frequent enough. When I know I’ve heard the question before but can’t remember the answer, I refer back to it and don’t have to spend the time looking for the answer again.
Thanks for reading Rosemary’s story. Stay tuned for similar interviews, a new interviewee soon…