What interested Bethany White in the plastics industry was the "community feel," she said, as well as the ongoing push for innovation and limitless products that can be made with plastics.
"The industry is always progressing and it is exciting to be a part of," she said.
Deceuninck North America is her first plastics position. White started as a co-op before her senior year and continued as a full-time design engineer directly out of college. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering technology and a master's degree in mechanical engineering, which she earned in 2021 and said is her greatest achievement.
White is responsible for communicating with customers and vendors on product needs, traveling to assist during product startups, using CAD software to design window and door systems, problem-solving to innovate new applications and running analysis to test ratings of window and door units.
The coronavirus pandemic initially limited travel, so projects were halted, and "the entire fenestration industry struggled with limited materials and supply chain constraints."
"However, Deceuninck managed the pandemic with transparency to employees and customers. As we exit the peak phases of the pandemic, Deceuninck has invested in its people, processes, infrastructure and operations to successfully begin to return to where we were pre-pandemic," White said.
White said the pandemic showed how easily remote offices could be utilized.
"Our team managed this transition with grace, and we've witnessed how successful our engineering team — and the entire organization — can be even when working from remote locations," she said. "It's all about communication and staying connected."
White is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance.
"The personal mold that I am breaking is being a minority in engineering," she said. "I would like to see more women and people of color in STEM fields."
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
White: I am interested in smart glazing technology and what it could mean for future energy savings. Smart glass is something that is becoming more common in intelligent buildings, and it is interesting to consider how these technologies could interweave with what Deceuninck is doing from a window and door frame/extrusion perspective.
Q: What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
White: I have faced challenges on past projects by not always debriefing with the team to reflect, make a plan and ensure success of the project. It is critical to have a plan of action and establish ongoing check-ins with the team, especially when you are so new to the industry. We have an excellent engineering team here at Deceuninck that understands the importance of collaboration and getting/staying on the same page through all phases of a project.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
White: I would advise them to begin networking and attend conferences in their select field. It is so critical to make connections in order to advance your career and to bolster your own growth trajectory. Also, I would advise them to dive into the history codes and regulations of their particular field.