Celebrating Cummins women engineers that you should know

Today, June 23, marks International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), which celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world. The annual international campaign focuses attention on the many opportunities for women in engineering and encourages girls to consider STEM careers.

This year, we’re recognizing Kristen Bridgeman, Cummins Product Development Excellence Director, and Niyati Tamaskar, Cummins Electrical and Computer Engineer, who were recently named as “Women Engineers You Should Know” by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for 2021. Excerpts from the Spring 2021 issue of SWE Magazine appear below, with permission from SWE. 

Aspiring the next generation

A native of Northern California, Kristen Bridgeman graduated from Stanford University, beginning her career as a chemical engineer. She wanted to become a biomedical engineer, but, as the saying goes, “life happens when you’re making other plans.” She married, had her first child, and moved to Indiana.

Kristen Bridgeman
Kristen Bridgeman, Cummins Product Development Excellence Director

A one-year leave turned into 20, and two more children. Bridgeman volunteered her engineering and organizational skills in the schools and became a leader in her church. She became a director at her daughter’s dance school, which built her project management skills. “If you can organize 200 kids to perform The Nutcracker, you can do anything,” Bridgeman says.

Bridgeman re-entered engineering as a contractor, working with Cummins Inc. Within a year, she was hired full time and became involved in several Cummins Technical Women’s Leadership initiatives. One of them, RePower, works with SWE, helping women ease back into STEM careers through six-month “returnships.” Bridgeman was instrumental in the creation of the program. 

Cummins is one of seven founding members of the STEM Re-entry Task Force, a group of engineering companies committed to piloting an internship program for women returning to work after a career break. 

A love for engineering  

With 15 years of experience, Niyati Tamaskar spends her days developing electronic controls for machine and engine applications. 

Niyati Tamaskar
Niyati Tamaskar, Cummins Electrical and Computer Engineer

At 34, Tamaskar was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. She was breastfeeding her second child at the time. Growing up in India, she found discussion of serious illness was often discouraged, however, Tamaskar chose not to be silent, writing a 2019 memoir about her cancer journey. She donates all proceeds of ‘Unafraid: A Survivor’s Quest for Human Connection’ to the American Cancer Society. Unafraid was featured in Forbes magazine as one of eight books that will help to spark human connection. 

In 2021, Niyati published a sequel to her memoir. In ‘Unabashed: Self-Advocacy and the Quest to Foster Empathy’ she offers a distinctive perspective on self-advocacy and the transformative power of empathy and service to others.

Tamaskar connects with women of color with breast cancer locally and nationally. She helps navigate medical jargon, sheds light on the reconstruction processes, and brainstorms strategies while nourishing their self-advocacy. Tamaskar has given talks on “the power of vulnerability” at Cummins Inc. and has given a TEDx talk on the cultural bias and stigma associated with cancer.

Her love of engineering is equaled by her dedication as North American leader for Cummins Women in Technology, and she promotes STEM education and engineering careers among minorities. She volunteers for Girls Inc. and is part of Cummins’ engineering recruiting team for The Ohio State University. 

Join us in celebrating women engineers that are making the world a better place and learn how SWE is empowering women to succeed and advance their personal lives. 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Building Inclusive Communities with Sign Language

employees showing sign language

Sign languages have the power to unite us. Did you know that there are more than 70 million deaf or hard-of-hearing people worldwide that collectively use more than 300 different sign languages*? International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL), celebrated every September 23, was designated as a day to raise awareness about the global importance of all the many different sign languages - a mode of communication for the deaf. IDSL was first celebrated in 2018 as part of International Week of the Deaf, which has now evolved into a global movement of unity and advocacy to shed light on the issues deaf people face every day.

The observance of IDSL presents a distinct opportunity to support and highlight the richly diverse linguistic landscapes and culture of the deaf community along with others who use sign language to communicate. Through understanding the intersectionality of the deaf community, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us to create more inclusive work environments and the communities in which we live. 

At Cummins Inc., inclusive environments enable us to operate better across cultures, functions and languages to solve challenges and gain opportunities globally. One way we can foster more inclusive environments is by increasing accessibility for our employees. In order for Cummins to continue creating inclusive policies and ensuring accessibility adjustments, it is beneficial to know the magnitude of need. Voluntary self-identification (where applicable), is vital for providing us this data on the composition of our workforce for those with disabilities and other dimensions of diversity. 

As we strive to become an employer of choice for people with disabilities and impact communities by removing barriers to employment, there are a number of simple ways in which you can support this observance by educating yourself to become a better colleague, friend and/or ally. Together, we can spread awareness on the significant impact of sign languages and build stronger communities that are respectful and inclusive of all deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

*Statistic provided by United Nations and World Federation of the Deaf
Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Business Analyst Chris Scott always felt called to give back

employee fixing his DJ soundboard

Chris Scott lives with a higher purpose than self. As a Business Information Systems student at Tennessee State University (TSU), Chris served as a University Ambassador mentor and volunteered at his local Boys and Girls Club. He has long felt a calling to give back, to minority groups in particular. So, when he graduated, Chris planned to interview prospective employers that placed as much value on giving back as he did. When he attended the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Day at TSU and interviewed with Cummins Inc., he found such a place.

“The [Cummins] core values aligned with my personal values around diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), teamwork and caring,” Chris says.

And I’ve found in my short time here so far that we actually do hold up those values. It’s not just a marketing gimmick. I see it every day.”

Today, Chris is a Business Analyst for the Cummins CIO Workforce Strategy team. He’s responsible for internal operations like creating, defining and reporting workplace analytics, and also, for recruiting. He’ll analyze how many people work in the IT department, for example, and determine how to improve that number.

He also figures out how to find more candidates at HBCUs like his to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at Cummins. “I work on professional recruiting, too,” he says, “and part of that is recruiting veterans and other minority groups who maybe don’t have a college degree but have the experience necessary to fill positions. I’m proud to provide everything interns and new hires need for a successful experience at Cummins.”

Chris uses his own onboarding experience as a template for the ideal new hire experience. From day one at Cummins, he was impressed with his manager and the pace at which she brought him up to speed.

“I thought it would be hard to transition from college to the corporate world, but she made it easy and provided immediate learning and growth opportunities for me,” he says. “She really cared about our success and introduced me to the Cummins Black Network and Toastmasters.”

The Cummins Black Network (CBN) is one of many Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, within Cummins that help create a company-wide community by connecting employees with similar interests or backgrounds. “It’s an easy way for the company to promote and encourage DEI,” says Chris.

It’s also an easy way for Chris — a former high school and college marching band member who plays drums, brass horns and guitar — to connect with fellow musicians. Within CBN, Chris sits on the Music and Technical Committees and is a CBN Mentoring Circle Host. As a Music Committee member, he gets to DJ and provides backup playlists for “First Friday,” an internal networking event that he says, is a great way to celebrate Black culture and his personal passion for music.

As a CBN Mentoring Circle Host, Chris mentors peers and networks with Cummins leaders. His circle consists of nine employees, and as the Circle Host, he is responsible for creating a collaborative space, establishing a meeting cadence and monitoring attendance. “This program is helping me develop my leadership and networking skills,” he says.

Chris admits that one of his biggest challenges is public speaking, so being encouraged to join things like Toastmasters and becoming a Mentoring Circle Host have really helped him step out of his comfort zone and grow as a professional.
“My written communication is great, but I tend to be challenged when it comes to communicating verbally. I have been trying to overcome this since middle school,” Chris says.

“I’ve improved by forcing myself into positions that require me to exercise the skill. Although I’m better now, there’s still room for improvement. I believe practicing and getting feedback is the best strategy for overcoming this challenge.”

Somehow, Chris has grasped at the young age of 22 what some of us never do; that every failure is a step toward success.

“[Failure] inspires me to be a continuous learner and a risk-taker. I’ve been at Cummins five months and have failed a lot, but I’ve always been able to recover.”

One thing he wishes he had done differently at the beginning was to reach out for help more. He mentions a time when he needed help but was too embarrassed to ask and make a fool of himself as someone so new to the team. He soon realized, however, that “people are here to help at Cummins. You don’t have to know everything. No one does. We all learn.”

As an employee, Chris takes full advantage of the opportunity for continued education and learning through Percipio boot camps and training at Cummins. “When my manager showed me those, I was blown away. We can get certification for free? This is great! I really enjoy those trainings.”

As a recruiter, Chris talks to candidates about the fact that he is still learning, and reminds them that, “you don't have to have all of the skills listed in a job description, just 30%. So long as you have that 30%, Cummins can teach you the rest and make you successful.”

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Mayowa Alonge has his eyes set on the future

Mayowa's photo shown in front of a red background

Mayowa Alonge has his eyes set on the future. A native Nigerian, Mayowa realized early the role human exploration can play in impacting the environment. “I was looking to contribute, to create a movement, to make progress in that area, and I dedicated my life, my career to making advancement safer for future generations,” he said.

In college, Alonge gained research experience developing an eco-friendly battery. That research landed him a six-month internship with Cummins Inc., which he knew of from their office in Lagos, Nigeria. What impressed Alonge most about Cummins was “their foresight to transition almost all of their products into renewable energy,” he says. “This aligned with my personal and career goals.”

Cummins recruited Alonge at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) conference in 2019 during his Master’s degree program. He was offered a full-time position in their New Power segment in Talent, Oregon, where he currently works as a Systems Engineer in battery development.

In addition to their sustainability efforts, the community Cummins builds has also resonated with Alonge. He has found Cummins to be an environment where everyone looks out for each other’s safety, as well as the safety of the end-user of the products. This is important to him; as is the company’s focus on work-life balance, diversity, team bonding and coming to work happy.

“I joined the team in the middle of a pandemic and moved from Texas to Oregon,” he says. “I felt welcomed. The team bonding was seamless. I think this is the best group of people I have ever worked with in my life.”

He points out that when he joined Cummins’ team in Talent, he was the only Black person in the building, “And I felt welcomed, like, literally,” he says. “Now we have four Black people on the team. The culture of acceptance is there, from the top down. They respect people regardless of color, sexual orientation, or anything. I’ve never seen any company as diverse as Cummins since being in the U.S. You know you are welcome.”

What makes Alonge happiest at work, however, is the freedom to think creatively and explore new tools. The lack of rigidity around doing work a certain way inspires him to bring his A-game to work every day.

“The leadership team I work with trusts me with the responsibility of coming up with design experiments for different products to test and validate the components to be sure that product is good for use,” he says. “Even with me joining the team recently and being a new employee, their trust gives me a lot of confidence to explore so many things in terms of ‘how do we do this in a better way? What do we need to do?’” With that confidence, Alonge has helped launch products that are already on the market, plus several more that are on the way.

Next, he has his sights set on the advent of lithium iron phosphates, or lithium metals. He believes that battery technology is the future and that if we can reduce the thermal runaway in batteries, they will become an invaluable resource for protecting tomorrow.

In his own little way, he says he’s trying to contribute to the reduction in pollution, which makes him feel accomplished as a person every day.

“People my age realize that the future is right in front of us, and if we don’t take drastic measures to prevent pollution, a lot of us would be sick,” he says. “You must be in that space where you’re working with companies that see the future and actually want to prevent bad things. People who have kids–and one day, I‘ll have kids–we don’t want to put them in an environment where they ask us, ‘Why didn’t you do something about it?’”

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

From campus to Cummins: Follow a Manufacturing Engineer's career journey

Employee standing with arms crossed

Being part of a community has always been a priority for Zaira Malibran, Electrified Power Business Unit (EPBU) engineer at Cummins Inc. When she left her home in Tamaulipas, Mexico to attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UT), Malibran wasted no time finding her place on campus.

After settling on a degree in manufacturing engineering (ME), Malibran dug into engineering organizations at school, joining the Society of Women Engineers and Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). In her sophomore year, she applied for a scholarship to attend the Great Minds in STEM Conference (GMiS), excited to attend the career fair there and possibly have a mock interview with recruiters.

“I didn’t plan on having an actual interview there, especially as a sophomore,” said Malibran. “I was just planning to check it out and come back to interview as a junior. But when I heard I got an interview with Cummins, I was so excited. I didn’t sleep the night before, staying up until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. to learn all the Cummins history.”

Malibran leaned on a community of seniors at UT to help her prepare for her first interview, and she nailed it. Cummins offered her an internship at their Columbus Engine Plant (CEP) as an industrial engineer for re-manufacturing. After that internship, Malibran realized she wanted to be more hands-on to see products develop from the design stage all the way to launch.

The great thing about Cummins is that they listen to you, what you want to do, what next steps in your career you want. They help you get there."

"I asked for more hands-on, and I got it,” Malibran said. Her second Cummins internship the following summer was in Charleston, South Carolina as an ME in turbo technologies. There, she interacted with operations and products to learn how things assemble and work.

With two internships under her belt, Malibran graduated UT and received a full-time offer at CEP as an ME for New Power. She has now been in the New Power business segment for three years and says, “We’re all learning as we go. Electrification is a new business at Cummins, so everyone helps each other to learn and understand the process.” 

Much like she joined affinity groups in college, Malibran has taken advantage of Cummins Employee Resource Groups (ERG) to find guidance and community. “I’m part of the Women Empowerment and the Latino ERG. I identify a lot with the people in these groups,” she says. “I feel that community that supports me, people with the same background as me — though you don’t have to be Latin American to be part of that group. Anyone can join that group because they want to learn more about it. I like sharing my experience and then hearing other people's experiences of how they got here. I just really enjoy how Cummins gives this open space for everyone to express themselves.”

Through the Women Empowerment ERG, Malibran has gained access to female speakers and mentors who share their journeys of how they got to where they are today. “They do a lot of campaigns about supporting women and encouraging them to do more,” said Malibran. “It can be tough as a woman working in a field of men, but Cummins will open those doors for you and make you feel comfortable and welcome.”

As the doors continue to open, Malibran hopes to graduate from Electrification ME to a manufacturing leader and design a line from start to finish. “I look forward to being not just in a supporting role, but the lead, having the responsibility on my shoulders and the ability to make the calls,” she says. “Feeling confident enough to be like, ‘Hey, you know what? We're going to change this whole system, and then we're going to implement this new one.’”

With many supportive communities behind her, a self-advocating voice inside her, and a work environment where Malibran isn’t afraid to speak up for what she wants, those goals are within reach.

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Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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