This story will definitely put any sexist to shame. With so many women breaking barriers for other women, Jackie Birdsall can definitely inspire young girls into pursuing an awesome career in automotive engineering.
With her love for the Fast and Furious movie and modifying cars as a way of having fun with her friends when she was young, this intelligent 32-year old automotive engineer’s got one of the best jobs in the world. She’s a senior engineer at the Toyota North America in charge of the hydrogen fuel tanks in her area. What does she do? Well, there are days when she has to shoot a gun at these hydrogen tanks in the wilderness – oh well, just to check if they explode. Kaboom!
Growing up, she had the habit of tearing one thing apart and putting it back together. Clearly, she’s got an engineer’s gene within her. This led her to a career all engineers dream off (even though she was clueless about the field when she was younger).
“My friends who worked on cars really worked on cars. I was so far behind them. I worked on friends’ ATVs and changed oil every time I could. I bought an ’87 Camry and started tinkering around with that. And I read automotive histories and biographies. I dragged The Reckoning, David Halberstam’s 752-page overview of the American and Japanese auto industries, around in my backpack. I love the sound of cars. I love driving cars. I love drawing cars. I love the smell of tires—the best smell in the world. I’d sleep in a tire rack if you let me.” said Birdsall.
How did she end up studying automotive engineering then? Well, when her teacher told her father that her knowledge in math is clearly undeniable, she submitted her designs to General Motors Design School and got a response like this:
“Have you ever thought of becoming an engineer?”
She then enrolled in Kettering University and the rest is history.
So what’s next for this young rockstar-like engineer? Well, she’s moving to Japan. She’ll be working on the next iteration of the fuel cell.
Oh, to be young, adventurous and remarkably intelligent. She’s definitely making a mark in the world of automotive engineering and inspiring other women to follow their dreams.