Madeline McCloughan always knew she wanted to pursue a career involving math, but it wasn’t until college that she discovered a love for engineering.
“I think math is awesome because there’s always a right answer,” she says. “Once I was able to get into some electives, I thought it was cool how engineering is a very process-oriented mindset, much like math.”
The opportunities presented by a degree in engineering were attractive to Madeline as well. She decided to major in chemical engineering and soon secured an internship with 3M’s Industrial Adhesives and Tapes Division. As an intern, Madeline dove into the world of spittable flying and other splicing tapes relied on to keep presses running in the commercial print industry. Her work was so impressive that she was asked to join 3M as a full-time employee after graduating in 2014.
In her current role as a technical service engineer, Madeline develops testing procedures, helping her understand the impact of tape performance on different film media. Her work with customers has extended into film handling procedures, splicing practices and identification of opportunities both on and off the press to identify improved solutions offering benefits to our customers’ processes.
“I like where we fit into the development process; how we can bring feedback from our customers and really find a solution that they need,” she says. “It’s cool because you get to spend a lot of time with the end user. It really helps me better understand our products.”
In 2015, Madeline took on the two new 3M priority tape projects in her tech service role. Using Six Sigma skill sets, she set about creating standard questions, guidelines and a data reporting methodology to reflect the “voice of the customer” in her field work. These sources of customer data later became highly valued input used in the development, sales and marketing of the products.
Kathleen Vanderwall, a senior technical manager at 3M who nominated Madeline, praised her eagerness to take on leadership roles.
“Madeline’s leadership at 3M has gone beyond her traditional role,” Kathleen said. In her first year at 3M, Madeline joined the Tech Service Committee, part of a corporate-wide technical forum. Within her first year, Madeline was asked to co-chair the entire Tech Service Committee—a corporate-wide committee focusing on providing technical assistance to customers. She has also provided leadership and representation for 3M at the regional Society of Women Engineers conference.
“In her short time at 3M, Madeline has made a large impact through her thought leadership, focus on the customer, and accomplishments outside of her traditional job role,” said Kathleen Vanderwall, who nominated Madeline. “She represents our future of manufacturing.”
For other young people who may be considering a career in engineering, Madeline encourages them to go for it.
“I say that if you have the abilities—I think you have to have some natural science and math abilities—it’s so worthwhile. It’s opened so many doors for me.”
This article was first published in the July 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read all of the 2016 30 Under 30 Profiles as a PDF.