The Path Forward with Danielle McDonnell

There are many responsibilities that come with being an engineer. During an interview with Danielle McDonnell, a program manager at INTUITIVE Research and Technology Corporation, she describes what she does in her career field.

“My area of responsibility kind of includes reliability engineering, quality engineering, manufacturing and science technology, and quality management.” 

These fields are usually grouped into what is called specialty engineering. McDonnell explains that at INTUITIVE, these engineers “ask a lot of questions like; how is the item going to be manufactured, is it going to be expensive to make, how will it be used, … will it be safe and reliable, is it easy to maintain and repair, and are the repairs going to be expensive.” 

McDonnell details what she believes is a skill that some young engineers are missing in STEM fields today. 

“The number one skill we don’t see in people right away is critical thinking. So, when you approach a problem, you have to critically think about the steps you need to do to solve the problem and some of the impacts that would come along with the steps that you are taking and to really consider the full problem and get to a solution.”

McDonnell suggests “practic[ing]. So, with every project you’re given or every chance you get to practice that skill, do it. So maybe, rather than just answering the problem in your homework, really try to understand what the problem is trying to get at and why you’re learning it, and start to dig in a little deeper.” 

McDonnell explains what being a women engineer is like on her team at INTUITIVE and when she earning her degree in engineering at Clemson. 

“I am super fortunate, I work with a team of eight every day, and six of us are women. … During school and in your classes, when you walk in and the professor looks at you and he says, ‘This is “this” engineering class. Are you sure you’re in the right room?’ and [I’m] like ‘Yes, I’m in the right room, I’ve been in this major for two years.’”

McDonnell wears a lot of hats in her position at INTUITIVE. She has experienced surprise and doubt as a woman in engineering and still has pushed through.

For more information on Danielle McDonnell, check out the linked video.

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