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Taylor Warriner ’15: Excelling in the Male-Dominated World of Engineering

July 21, 2017
Taylor Warriner ’15 with her Innovation Award from RPA Engineering
Taylor Warriner ’15 with her Innovation Award from RPA Engineering

What company wouldn’t kill to get an employee with this kind of attitude?

"During 2016, I focused on growing professionally by holding myself to higher standards and challenging myself to leave my comfort zone. I wanted to play an active role in making an impact at RPA, to see the company grow and thrive."

And what college wouldn’t love to have a very successful alum send her professor an email like this?

"Thank you for the positive impact you had on my time at Keene and teaching me everything I need to know about innovation and thinking outside of the box. My education is going to great use."

Well, RPA Engineering, with offices in four states, has just such an employee (who earned her company’s 2016 Innovation Award), and Keene State has just such an alum, in Taylor Warriner ’15. Warriner, who started her career at RPA two years ago with back-to-back summer internships, transferred to Keene State from Penn State because she sought a more intimate learning experience. “I got the sense that the professors truly care about the student’s goals and education, creating more of a personal experience,” she said. “I believe that helps build character within the student and makes them feel valued.”

Once she got to Keene State, Warriner, a native of Atlantic City, NJ, created an individualized major for herself called Innovative Building and Product Design, combining select Architecture and Sustainable Product Design and Innovation (SPDI) classes. This allowed her to develop the skills she uses in her profession, where she’s involved in facilities design and product development.

So exactly what does she do? “The last year and a half, I’ve been researching and working towards ideation methods for a new nano-biomedical device that will help improve the quality of life for those suffering from a seizure disorder,” she explained. “The last year has been dedicated to researching existing nano-biomedical devices and their materials, researching challenges with current anti-seizure drug administration, and providing survey questions to determine the end-users’ personal experiences regarding existing anti-seizure medications. 

She’s also developed an internal software forum that lets RPA’s technical employees discuss challenges, tips, and standards, allowing employees to work more efficiently and communicate more effectively.

Warriner is a member of RPA’s Advanced Environments group, which is made up of Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Structural, and Fire Protection (MEPS-FP) engineers that are responsible for engineering building systems for new or renovated facilities. “I am responsible for electrical power distribution and lighting designs for facilities ranging from as little as 1,000 sq. ft. to more than 300,000 sq. ft.,” she said. “These facilities are typically pharmaceutical, clean room labs, office buildings, manufacturing/industrial plants, and higher education facilities. My most recent large-scale project was for a well-known eye care treatment manufacturing company that wants to transform an old steel mill into a new 40,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility.”

Those Most Important Intangibles

She also credits Keene State for providing a few invaluable but less-measurable aspects in her skill set: As a student, she spoke at a conference in Jacksonville, FL, about the importance of energy efficiency in residential homes and discussed her findings from an energy audit she and a classmate performed on a Keene residence. “Thanks to this opportunity, I was able to improve my public speaking skills, and I learned how to interact with clients to create an amiable, yet professional, experience,” she said.

And the product design courses she took from SPDI Associate Professor Lisa Hix gave her the confidence she needed to think outside of the box and take risks. “I was the only female student in most of my product design courses, which was challenging at times,” she recalled. “As one of three technical women at RPA Engineering’s headquarters, my experience has given me the self assurance I need to succeed in the male-dominated field of engineering."