Merv introduced the guest speaker for the evening, his daughter Lauren Winship.  Lauren is a computer systems and electronic engineer, currently working for Ford, Australia.  Lauren has worked for Ford for 10 years.  She commenced work in their three-year Graduate program.  In her first year she worked as a Systems Engineer at Broadmeadows, her second year was spent at the Ford Proving Grounds in the You Yangs, working as a Noise, Vibration Harshness and Sound Pack Engineer.  In her words she put “fluffy stuff into the vehicle”, the vehicle being the Ford Ranger, with the aim of minimising vehicle noise into the passenger cabin.  Her third year and current role is working as a Hardware in the Loop Engineer.  She stated she and fellow engineers work with the electronic components of the car, without the actual physical car – scenarios are simulated on computers and other special equipment.  One of the tests she works on is simulating when a car stops rapidly to ensure the vehicle’s electronic system responds appropriately, i.e. hazard lights go off, air bags inflate and the engine stops.  Lauren currently works on the Ranger and Everest, vehicles designed in Australia for the world market.
Lauren spoke of her journey to getting to be an engineer.  She described herself as quite determined, having good parents who encouraged her to believe in herself and never give up.  She stated that she attended weekend camps at both Monash University and the University of Melbourne from which she decided that engineering was boring and not for her.  Her major interest was in the human body and its biomechanics.  Lauren undertook a double degree at Swinburne University in Biomedical Science and Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering.  After completing a 12 month industry placement at the Royal Children’s Hospital as a cardiology technician, she decided that engineering would be the field for her.
Lauren works in a male dominated field.  While at University and in her pre-children days, she became used to working with mainly men.  However, once she fell pregnant she noticed a change.  As a consequence, she became an active member of the Ford Professional Women’s Network.  This organisation provides Professional Development to women in the Ford workplace.  One of the projects she has worked on over a period of time has been to have Ford Australia accredited by the Australian Breastfeeding Association.  Currently all Ford sites have facilities for breastfeeding mothers to express and children are now allowed on site.  Lauren showed a short video produced by Ford for Mother’s Day, in which she outlined how Ford assists women in the workplace.
Lauren then spoke of the “perks” of her job.  The main one being that she gets a new car every 6 to 12 months.  Her current vehicle being a Mustang.  In her words, “not a very good family car but lots of fun.”