Rachel Ziegler

Rachel Ziegler

Project Engineer II
Weir Minerals
Madison, WI, United States
Rachel Ziegler
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I attended college at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and received my bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering in May of 2011. I started work as a Project Engineer for a company that designs and manufacturers mining equipment. I manage complex projects for customers in the oil sands, power plants, and at mines. The company I work for produces slurry pumps. Slurry is a solid and liquid mixture (we're essentially pumping rocks). Our pumps are very large - think over 10 feet tall, weighing over 100,000 pounds, pumping over 20,000 gallons per minute! I've gotten to go to mines and see dump trucks with tires alone that are 13 feet tall. It's pretty amazing to see equipment on that large of scale. I would love to see more women enter the field!

  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to be contacted about potential job shadowing by interested students.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Rachel Ziegler

Hi Martha, 
I wouldn't let the drawing component deter you from one major or the other.  The drawing involved in any engineering field is more about learning how to draw objects in different views (i.e. top, front, and side).  There are classes that will help develop this spatial reasoning and teach you how to create engineering drawings.  In my experience, I was required to take a class called Intro to Engineering Graphics where we learned descriptive geometry, orthographic projections, and how to draw multi-view engineering drawings.   We then went on to a geometric modeling class where we learned to draw and design objects in a CAD program on a computer.

In my day to day activities at work, I need to be able to look at and understand engineering drawings and how the dimensions relate to one another.  I occasionally need to draw a sketch to help someone understand a design concept I'm thinking of, but otherwise I don't draw anything.  I think you should give both majors a try if you're interested in both.  Maybe take some introductory classes in both and see which you enjoy more.  Good luck! 

Hi Alina,

I'm so happy to hear that you're interested in engineering!  You were correct that you need to take Calculus 1, 2, and 3, linear algebra, differential equations, and possibly some additional math credits depending on the program.  As you probably already know, math is a subject where each course tends to build on the previous information.  My best recommendation would be to take as much math as you can in high school - especially AP Calculus if your high school offers it.  Make an effort to make sure you really understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.  Outside of math, I think it'd be extremely helpful for you to take a physics class or do some reading on your own time about the basics of physics.  

As far as which major is easier - it really depends on the person.  Mechanical engineering is easier for some because it is in the physical world - you can see how things work together, whereas electrical engineering is a bit more "imaginary" since we cannot see electricity.  When you're deciding on where to go to college, I'd make sure they offer both a mechanical and electrical engineering program since you aren't sure which you'd like to study.  After you've found the colleges you're interested in, you can look into the different rankings to help you narrow things down.  There are a lot of factors in choosing a college, so make sure you weigh all your options!

My last piece of advice is for you to consider a FIRST robotics team if your school has one.  If it doesn't check out the FIRST robotics website as there are a lot of good local opportunities.  Best of luck to you with whatever you choose to do!