Robin Lawson

Madison, WI, US
Field of Work 
Mechanical Engineering
Company 
Lumen Electronic Jewelry
Job Title or "Student" 
Design Diva
Education 
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Degree 
Mechanical Engineering
Education Level 
Masters
Profile Biography 
I grew up in rural WI and am a life long tinkerer and fourth generation engineer. Yes, 4th generation. Growing up in our house was a little different. My father had a full machine shop in the woods, as big as the house he designed and helped build. If anything broke, he fixed it and took my brother and I along to help. From a young age I wasn't very interested in stereotypical "girlie" things. I loved my little pony, my stuffed animals, and legos. When I played farm, the people were in the corral and the animals were walking around running things. I was also very crafty, making wire trees or origami nativity scenes to sell at local craft fairs. Growing up in the woods I had a lot of strange pets; from snakes to frogs to even a pet raccoon one summer.

I can see now that those early experiences helped give me the confidence to go into engineering, and I want to pass on that confidence to other girls. I was good at math and science, and comfortable with mechanical things. Engineering made sense to me and I knew it would be a good career that would give me a lot of flexibility. Straight out of college I wanted to live in the Rockies and snowboard, as well as work in aerospace. I didn't go the traditional job search route, submitting resumes online through HR. Instead I picked companies I wanted to work for and bugged them for an interview. One in Montrose Colorado finally hired me, a composite company. I learned a lot making composite parts alongside the manufacturing people. After they went under (not my fault!) I found another Aerospace job through my contacts in Salt Lake City, Utah. The snowboarding there is EPIC, I was completely spoiled. Next was a Masters in Mechanical Engineering to fill out the holes in my knowledge, and then Trek Bicycle Corp recruited me. I couldn't turn them down, so back to WI I went. The job was great, it was a highly collaborative and creative environment. Plus they had a lot of fun resources, from a full test lab to a 3D printer and state of the art prototyping shop. And I love almost everything about Madison, except the lack of good snowboarding.

Being in engineering has allowed me to chart my own life course and live a comfortable life style. I've been able to live where I want, work on interesting and challenging projects, and have free time and money to pursue my other interests. I've traveled to several foreign countries, including Peru and Taiwan, and plan to travel to more. I've also taken up dancing in my free time, learning Salsa and Argentine Tango. And a few years ago my brother (also an engineer, go figure) and I started making blinking electronic jewelry, powered by the sun. It's just what sibling engineers do for fun. When I was laid off from Trek this January I decided to pursue my dream of starting my own business. So I am now the Design Diva for Lumen Electronic Jewelry full time. It combines many of my loves; engineering and art, as well as educational outreach and inspiring the next generation of girls.
Interests 
Pets, Dance, Travel
Race & Ethnicity 
White
Level of Participation 
After-school visit, In-school visit, Summer camp visit
My Experience 
I have been a Role Model 1-2 times.
Availability 
No Preference
Resources 
Fun demonstrations or materials, Hands-on activities for students
Program Affiliation 
None

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