Eaton engineer Laura Valencia Fritsch helps develop innovative, emerging sustainable technologies and shares her career advice for women in STEM


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Eaton engineer helps create sustainable energy solutions

Eaton engineer helps create sustainable energy solutions

 November 19, 2020

Laura Valencia Fritsch is a lead electric engineer for Eaton's eMobility Power Distribution and Protection team. I

Laura explains how she has the opportunity to create and develop innovative and emerging sustainable technologies, while championing women and girls in STEM. 


How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously? 

I joined Eaton’s New Product Introduction eMobility team in 2019.  As someone who loves technology, new product development and innovation, I found that Eaton’s eMobility is one of the most exciting and fast-paced sectors in all of Eaton. We are creating new technology here! Technology that will change the way we view and experience vehicles and transportation today and into the future.  

Prior to making a move to eMobility’s Power Distribution and Protection team, I worked for our Industrial Sector Center of Excellence (IS CoE). I designed and developed embedded electronics and controls for digital proportional valves. The application for these digital valves is industrial wind turbines which is another way Eaton is bringing sustainable energy solutions to power our future. 

What made you first want to pursue a career in engineering? 

I developed a love for math and science when I was in high school. Math was one of those subjects that I was just good at.  My teachers took notice and encouraged me to consider a career in math and science. At that point in time, I didn’t realize going to college was an option for me. I didn’t know what engineering was; I just knew that I liked to solve problems. 

Also, in high school I was part of the Science Olympiad team. One year, I built a Rube Goldberg machine, which had to accomplish a simple task utilizing five forms of energy transitions. During the competition, my electronics failed and I had to touch the machine during the competition to fix the issue. I ended up getting second bronze that year. It was then that I knew I needed to learn more about electronics and how they worked. That’s when I decided to become an electrical engineer. 

What projects or programs are you currently working on? 

Eaton’s eMobility division is one of our newest sectors. We are working on technology that will be out in the market and changing the world in the next five years. At eMobility, we are working with commercial and passenger vehicle manufacturers to create the next generation of electric vehicle technology. In Power Distribution and Protection, we are prototyping and manufacturing safety devices for electric vehicles. 

Eaton’s High-Power Distribution Unit, High Voltage Junction Box and other advanced circuit protection devices such as Eaton’s Breaktor and the Intelligent Power Distribution Unit are used to efficiently manage and distribute power from the vehicle battery to the vehicle loads. These products not only provide diagnostic features and advanced circuit protection, but also add value to vehicle performance due to their environmental robustness and serviceability.   

What excites me the most about this type of work is the novelty of it. Although electric vehicles have been around for some time now, this is the first time that automotive manufacturers around the world are in acknowledgement that gasoline-powered vehicles are not going to cut it for the future. Environmental awareness and the consumer responsibility for creating a better and healthier planet have made room for the electric vehicle market to boom.

How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you?

I am a huge advocate for youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). As young kids, most of us have no idea what engineering is. Gender biases and societal constraints make careers in STEM for women almost unachievable. Because of this, I advocate for nonprofit organizations such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), FIRST Robotics and SciGirls - organizations that bring STEM awareness to young kids and provide minority representation; organizations that help young college students attain careers in engineering and empower women.  

How do I make time? I prioritize. I think we can all prioritize what matters most. In my opinion, bringing STEM awareness to our youth is what matters most. In 2017, I participated in a Role Model video for Twin Cities PBS SciGirls and it was an honor to share my story and what I do as an electrical engineer with hundreds of young girls in the surrounding area. 

How does Eaton empower women who are pursuing careers in tech and/or engineering? 

Eaton offers multiple inclusion Employee Resource Groups. These resource groups are formed to cultivate inclusion and diversity among its employees and form affinity among employees with similar backgrounds. For women, Eaton offers WAVE (Women Adding Value at Eaton). WAVE focuses on driving systematic change to increase retention of women in tech and improve recruitment of female engineers. It does this by understanding the issues women face in the workplace and identifying their root causes. Besides WAVE, I am part of #VAMOS!, an inclusion ERG for people of Hispanic and Latin background. I am also part of Eaton Pride, which is our inclusion ERG for LGBTQ people and allies.  

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received? 

Most recently I signed up to be mentored by one of our senior leaders Brian Mckay. He asked during one of our first meetings: “Laura, what is leadership to you? How do you show leadership in our organization?” 

At that point in time, I didn’t know how to answer those questions. However, I recently made a connection. One of my favorite quotes by Salvador Dali says, “A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” For a long time, I thought that is what I wanted to do.  I wanted to inspire people, but I didn’t know how. Then, during one of my mentoring sessions with Brian, he shared with me his definition of leadership and what leadership looks like at an organization like Eaton. He used the words “Vision, Strategy and Execution” to describe leadership, but then he said something that struck me the way Dali’s quote did. He said: “If you can share your vision and you can get people to follow you, then you are a leader.” To be a leader in this way is the best piece of career advice I could have received. 

What advice do you have for women in engineering who want to take their career path to the next level? 

The most heartfelt piece of advice I could give to women in engineering wanting to take their career to the next level is the same piece of advice I would give to any young girl wanting to pursue a career in STEM. I would say: “Don’t let the perceptions of others stop you from achieving your dreams. Stand tall and confident in your abilities and go for it!” 


Work with talented women like Laura at Eaton

At Eaton, women like Laura are working on pioneering projects, developing both their skills and their career - all while being great role models for further women in STEM.

Join the many talented women like Laura by  searching for a great job at Eaton.

  

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