Nikki has always loved to read. At age seven, her father got her hooked on science fiction with A Wrinkle In Time, and got her hooked on science, too. As a young child, Nikki read with her father at bedtime, learning about geology, the structure of atoms, mechanics, and more from DK’s Pocket Science Encyclopedia. This was her first step on the path to a career in engineering.
She admits it is a demanding field of study. “Too many young girls can be intimidated by math and science”, she says, “My advice to them is to find other women and men that are just as passionate about STEM as they are. I’ve been fortunate in having supportive mentors and driven peers to work with throughout my journey so far, and it’s made all the difference.” She’s now involved with the Hartford Section of the Society of Women Engineers.
After graduating from the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, NJ, Nikki received her bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from Cornell University. She describes her degree in simple terms. “Materials engineering is understanding what something is made of and how it behaves. From there, we can work out how to process it, make it perform better, or figure out why it fails.
She is doing just that for Otis as a materials engineer. One of her current assignments is the development of a new, faster test for the polymer materials used in coated steel belts. She’s also leading a root cause investigation into machine sheave rust in China.
What drew her to Otis and United Technologies? “UTC’s emphasis on continuous learning is really unique,” she says. “I’ve seen first-hand how invested the company is in fostering your growth as an engineer; I’ve been able to dive deep into technical projects, been encouraged to work on projects outside my current comfort zone, been given training and hands-on experience, and I’m constantly learning from the technical experts that I work with daily.”