ADRIAN — A female engineer is rare.
Stephanie Hayes is even rarer.
Women make up 20 percent of engineering school graduates, but just 11 percent of practicing engineers are women, according to the Society of Women Engineers. That’s because most women have left the field after age 30. The women who do choose engineering tend toward agricultural and environmental disciplines, avoiding such fields as mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.
Which is why the Adrian resident is particularly rare.
She’s an engineer in the highly male automotive industry, where less than one in five engineers is a woman. She’s also been one for the past 15 years.
And she’s a leader — proven by her 2017 STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Award. As a senior launch and engineering manager with Faurecia at its Saline plant, she was one of 100 women honored with the award by the Manufacturing Institute for their excellence and leadership in manufacturing.
Hayes comes by this profession naturally — her father was a mechanical engineer and her grandfather was a chemical engineer — and early.
“I definitely liked the sciences and math and science as a whole, from a very young age,” said the New Orleans native. “That was my knack.”
After leaning toward engineering in high school, however, she went to the University of Virginia with slightly different plans. She was pursuing double degrees in pre-med and chemical engineering.
Those plans lasted a year.
She dropped the pre-med, she said, “because I like the application side of the science. I like that challenge of taking the core sciences and applying them to real-life problems. That is what I fell in love with.”
She interned at Visteon, the former Ford Motor Co. subsidiary, at the end of her junior year. She loved living in Ann Arbor, she said, “and I loved what I did. I was working with the electronics group….