Stacey Swisher Harnetty

Stacey Swisher Harnetty

Title
Director of Stream Strategy
Organization
Eastman Chemical Company
Location
TN
Stacey Swisher Harnetty
Ask a Question:
Required field
Please note
Due to the unexpectedly large volume of questions being submitted to the Ask an Engineer program, it may take as many as 3 months or more for a response to your question to be posted. Please review previous questions and answers to see if your question may have already been addressed.
Enter the code shown: (only upper case)

Biography

Hi, my name is Stacey Swisher Harnetty. I am a mechanical engineer working for Eastman Chemical Company. Eastman Chemical Company employs about 14,000 people around the world. The Tennessee facility that I work at contains all the equipment required to convert raw materials into hundreds of chemicals, plastics, and fibers. In my current position, I manage a strategy group that helps businesses and manufacturing decide how to make the many products needed in the future in our highly integrated process streams (think recycle loops). As young engineers advance up the career ladder in many major industries, it is common for them to be assigned to new positions every two to three years. Over my 20 year career with Eastman Chemical Company, I have served in many roles such as process and plant engineering, process improvement, maintenance, project management and business strategy. I really enjoy my current position in developing strategy; it allows me to use all of my experiences and skills with my desire to work with people to make positive changes for the company and its employees. I began my engineering career as a small child. My father was a mechanical engineering student at this time, and I quickly learned that computer cards (these were used before personal computers were invented) made excellent toys. I also learned that slide rules, a precursor to the calculator, was quite tasty to chew on. On a more serious note, my parents are teachers, so I grew up in a family where education was stressed. This was probably why I did well in school and found that I enjoyed my math and science classes. When my father, a former Dean of Engineering, suggested that I might enjoy an engineering summer camp during the summer after my sophomore year in high school, I jumped at the chance to go. During this month-long camp at a local university, I learned about several different types of engineering and decided that mechanical engineering was for me. After I graduated from high school, I went to Tennessee Tech University and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. My senior year at TTU, I worked on the design, manufacture, and testing of a human-powered submarine. I not only got to do interesting engineering work during this project, but since I was a certified SCUBA diver, I also got to test the navigation system of the flooded sub! During this senior year of college, I began to wonder whether I wanted to teach or work in industry. To help me make this decision, I decided to go to graduate school where I could take more classes and work on a research project. Completing this work, I earned a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) with a specialty in thermal sciences. Since I now thought I understood what a career in a university would be like, I wanted to try an industry job. My plan was to work for about two years and then decide whether to pursue a doctorate degree. I liked my industry job so well that I decided to continue my career at Eastman Chemical Company. What I enjoy the most about my current position is that I get to work with a variety of people with different backgrounds and experience levels. I use my technical background along with my people and communications skills to help make decisions that can affect the company's profitability. Some of the accomplishments I am most proud of in my career are authoring two publications, working on four invention patents, being named Young Mechanical Engineer of the Year in 1997 by the Holston Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and serving as the 1996-97 Leadership Development Intern with the ASME National Council on Education. I have continued my work with the ASME, serving as a Vice President of Strategic Management, a Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, and currently a Board of Governors Nominee. If you are considering a career in engineering, go for it! Practice good study habits in school starting with the first semester, because your GPA could help you get the job you want after graduation. When you start working in your new environment, remember to do your job professionally and treat people with respect, no matter what role they play in reaching a common goal. Consider becoming involved in a professional society like ASME that enables you to give back and become involved in solving engineering problems that make the world a better place. Above all, enjoy the ever-changing, exciting engineering profession and the part you decide to play in it. Helpful WebPages: American Society of Mechanical Engineers: http://www.asme.org

Education
Bachelors of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering - Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, TN Masters of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering - Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
  • 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 interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Stacey Swisher Harnetty

Dear Tanya, Your question reminds me of my own experience in college. I was an A and B ME student getting Cs in physics (the class average) and wondering if I should change majors. I didnt enjoy the classes and wondered if I was actually retaining many of the concepts. I stuck it out though, because I really enjoyed the math, other science like chemistry, and the heat transfer/fluid flow classes. I then went on to graduate school for a MSME and started working for a chemical company after graduation. As an aside, some people are surprised to learn that chemical companies hire about as many MEs as they do ChemEs. Ive had the opportunity to work in many different roles at my company, and the important common denominator for success is engineering logic and problem solving. Dont let some tough physics classes change your career path if youre enjoying the other ME classes. More of it will stick than you think, and very few people are good at all aspects of mechanical engineering its a broad profession! Good luck with your classes Best Regards, Stacey