International Women in Engineering Day: An Interview with Andrea Copeland

Taking place annually on June 23, International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is an international awareness campaign celebrating the work and achievements of women engineers. The day provides an important opportunity to raise the profile of women engineers and highlight the amazing career opportunities available.

Engineering shapes the world and helps make our planet a better, safer, more innovative and exciting place to be. To celebrate, we spoke with Andrea Copeland, Process Engineer at Numat. Andrea’s work plays a valuable role in Numat’s mission to drive industrial efficiency through chemistry innovation. Andrea talks about what motivated her to seek a career in engineering, her highlights and challenges to date, and shares some advice for women and girls thinking about a career in engineering.

Who or what motivated you to pursue a career in engineering?

Andrea Copeland: Growing up, engineering was always on my radar because my dad is a mechanical engineer who loved sharing how to apply math and science to life. I hoped my work would “do good” in the world. However, I wasn’t interested in engineering until I explored its applications in late high school. When I discovered how many aspects of life engineers can touch, I was hooked.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

Andrea Copeland: Since graduating from college two years ago, I have moved between various job opportunities and locations. Adapting to new places, people, and work is fun but also requires an openness to change and the vulnerability of being new. I am grateful for each opportunity because I have learned a lot, grown as a person, and made great friends along the way.

Do you have any tips or advice for women embarking on a career in engineering?

Andrea Copeland: Jump in. Whether at school, work, or in life, I have found that feeling only 60-70% ready for a new challenge is plenty to start. Engineering can seem intimidating, but you don’t need to be perfect, especially at the beginning. What matters more is approaching challenges with enthusiasm, an openness to learning, and taking things one step at a time.

What are your career highlights?

Andrea Copeland: Engineering provides opportunities to work in many different industries and roles, which I have taken advantage of. I am early in my career, but I have moved between four states in the past two years, working in various roles that span Research & Development and manufacturing. I graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Prior to Numat, I worked at Procter & Gamble developing and launching global hair products like shampoo and conditioner. Joining Numat has given me the opportunity to apply my skills to emerging technology products and processes.

What do you enjoy most about your role in engineering at Numat? 

Andrea Copeland: From a technical perspective, I enjoy working across scales–from analyzing chemical reactions at the molecular level to running reactions in the lab and pilot plant to examining how to produce products at a manufacturing site. Discovering the connections at each step excites me. From the personal side, I love getting to work on something that hasn’t been done before with amazing colleagues I can learn from. It is incredibly motivating that the outcome of our work will make the world a better place.