I am mission success: Ann Shih

  • Posted: Friday, April 17, 2020, 11:55 am
Y-12 process engineer and Society of Women Engineers member, Ann Shih, at the 2017 National SWE Conference where she was a speaker.

Y-12 process engineer and Society of Women Engineers member, Ann Shih, at the 2017 National SWE Conference where she was a speaker.

Passion is one of the many attributes Ann Shih credits for her perseverance in helping others continuously improve. As a process engineer, there is no such thing as cutting corners. She specializes in improving safety and productivity by observing work processes, implementing cost-savings strategies by reducing key strokes, and persistently championing a better way to do things. Above all, teamwork and collaboration are her key strengths to success.

“My process improvements,” she said. “I couldn’t have done them by myself. By working with a variety of people who have different experiences, you can really perform.”

In addition to helping others, Shih is involved in the Society of Women Engineers and served as vice president of her local Smoky Mountain section for two years. SWE is the world’s largest advocate for women in engineering and technology. During her time as vice president, Shih grew the local society by leading outreach efforts to guide young females aspiring to become engineers or scientists.

From those efforts, Shih partnered with the University of Tennessee’s student SWE section to mentor students into their career. Each year, SWE also participates in Introduce a Girl to Engineering hosted by CNS.

“It brings me joy being able to mentor the girls and help them learn about what kind of opportunities are open to them in the future,” Shih said.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
In ninth grade, I decided I wanted to work in some type of industry. It was a mechanical drawing class that drew me toward engineering. I went to John Hopkins University for my B.S. in chemical engineering. After college, I earned both my M.S. and P.E. in chemical engineering. During my career, I worked as a process engineer for approximately 10 years in the semiconductor, carbide cutting tools, and nuclear fuel industries. Then, I had my first daughter and took 10 years off from work to become a stay-at-home mom. After that, I came back to work on the Uranium Processing Facility project as a design engineer for 10 years.

What top strength do you bring to your organization and why?
The ability to take a process and develop a way to make it safer and more efficient. All of my process improvements have been through collaborative effort. For example, my first improvement was to decrease the height of a can to make a cutting process safer through improved ergonomics. This change also benefitted two downstream processes. This effort began with a suggestion by Dwayne Beaty while he was performing the cut and later accomplished with the help of Matt Thomas in reconfiguring the can contents. Doug Perry, Environment Safety and Health, also provided insight to this safety concern.

I’m at my best when I am:
Being a tiger mom. By tiger, I mean that I was born in the year of the Tiger. I’ve raised my two daughters with encouragement for them to be self-expressive. I had them take dancing and piano lessons and gave them a stream of books and unlimited art supplies, all starting before the age of 5.

What is one thing your coworkers would be surprised to know about you?
I like being outdoors hiking, biking, and camping. I love visiting national parks. My favorite ones are Zion and Banff national parks. My family and I plan to visit Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion national parks.

What do you consider to be your most significant contribution so far?
My most significant contribution was being selected to be a speaker at the National SWE Conference in Texas in 2017 and giving a speech on how to start a mentoring program. There were 15,000 attendees at the conference. I researched my topic for several months and consulted with Y-12’s Black Belt Mentoring program along with Pantex’s Outreach and Leadership Organization affinity group for new hires. I was very proud to represent our local SWE section, CNS, and Bechtel at the conference.