John Deeres Erin Ralph always wanted to be a design engineer

John Deere's Erin Ralph always wanted to be a design engineer

 September 14, 2022

John Deere employs many impressive women. Meet Engineering Supervisor, Erin E. Ralph.

Erin is a supportive relationship builder, and a keen problem solver. Here, she shares insight into her role with John Deere.

An engineering career path

Erin had always wanted to be a design engineer - in fact, she wrote an essay about it in sixth grade! "In high school, I did a work study program in quality engineering where I worked on experimental abrasive material. I enjoyed it so much that I knew that engineering was the right path for me," explains Erin. 

In college, Erin chose Mechanical Engineering for her major and completed electives in quality and process control to complement the core curriculum. After graduation, Erin started at John Deere in the Engineering Development Program, which allowed her to experience different rotations in engineering.

From there, Erin spent ten years in new product development as a design engineer, fulfilling her childhood dream. During that time, Erin had opportunities to lead projects and teams. This provided her with a foundation for her current engineering supervisor role. 

Erin's current role as an Engineering Supervisor sees her work with a team of engineers on projects involving testing John Deere's big iron structures to ensure that machines meet customer expectations.

A key element that Erin enjoys in this role is coaching and mentoring her team to develop their skills.

When looking at her favorite reasons to work at work at John Deere, Erin says there are too many to name. "One that I’m particularly proud of was my very first design project which was the cab design for the largest loader we manufactured at the time – 844J," recalls Erin.

"I was responsible for the joystick steering armrest, cab structure and many other components. It’s one of my favorites because my designs were manufactured for many years and for me there is a lot of reward in that."

Enjoying international travel and great teams

The benefits of working for John Deere are two-fold for Erin. "It’s all about the people and the product," she says.

"I have had the opportunity to travel internationally for projects and collaborate on new machines and technology with cross-functional teams. I worked with some of the brightest, hard-working and dedicated individuals, many of who have become my friends. On the product side, the machines we develop impact our customers on a daily basis, which gives me a lot of satisfaction."

Looking at ways to get more women into roles like hers, Erin suggests: "We can welcome more women by having an inclusive culture where outside ideas, thoughts and experience are embraced. Most individuals do not grow up around agriculture or construction technology and equipment, so it’s important to recognize that this knowledge can be learned."

Focusing on women looking to work at John Deere, Erin advises: "Do not be intimated by the big equipment. Before I started at John Deere, I never operated a riding lawnmower, and now I can operate several types of construction and agricultural equipment."

Enjoying her downtime through meaningful exploits

When not at work, Erin's interests and hobbies range from supporting women in STEM activities, primarily though the Society of Women Engineers. She also enjoys working on her small grass feed beef operation, growing and preserving produce to create delicious meals (the true farm to table experience), and supporting her three daughters and their activities.

John Deere is a prime employer for women 

John Deere celebrates diversity, champions equity, and promotes inclusiveness.

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