Peggy Ruddy is a Global Technical Service Consultant at DuPont. For over 200 years, DuPont has been synonymous with life-changing discoveries and scientific know-how, reinventing themselves along the way.
Peggy Ruddy’s Story
When did your interest in science or engineering begin?
My interest in engineering began when I was in my early teens while working with my dad and brother on the family’s farm equipment. A few years later my skills were validated through a vocational aptitude test which was highly encouraged by my high school math teacher and counselor. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to these early indicators and followed the path of Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management only to come back to my true calling a year after earning my degree.
What was it like to be a woman studying in your field?
I had a great college experience where the professors and students treated everyone as equal, which provided a great foundation for a long-term career. There was mutual collaboration during group projects and great respect for the talent in the classes regardless of gender. Although there were typically only two women in each of the classes with an all male faculty team, there was never a moment where I felt I didn’t belong.
Share with us some of your career highlights.
I began my career with E.I. DuPont de Nemours in the Automotive Finishes business unit as a designer and project leader where I designed and optimized a stainless steel color dispersion unit. This dispersion unit design became the standard for all future units.
I then joined our Engineering Polymers technical team where I collaborated with Automotive customers developing the highly critical safety component, airbag covers. Each airbag cover is unique in styling to the vehicles requiring a class “A” surface and is critical that it functions at a broad temperature range. My contributions included selecting the appropriate material for hardness, providing solutions for injection molding gate locations through Computer Aided Engineering, and design suggestions for tear seam thickness, and stiffening and attachment ribs.
As our material offering reached the end of it’s life cycle, I became fully engaged in providing design for injection molding solutions through Computer Aided Engineering. At DuPont, we innovate by converting metal components to plastic and part consolidation via multiple component integration. In addition to air bag covers, I provided solutions in Automotive including air intake manifolds, cylinder head engine covers, headlamp bezels and brackets, transmission baffles and gear shrouds, oil pans, engine mount brackets, start/stop solenoids and many other components.
An application to highlight is the Hytrel® transmission baffle. These are single integrated transmission baffle/lip seal systems requiring tight tolerance and dimensional stability. I collaborated with the team to use Computer Aided Engineering solutions for optimizing the design for dimensional stability, developing the optimized gate locations for filling out the extremely thin lip seals while offering an engineered solution for injection molding the transmission baffle while correcting a potential warp issue.
To date, what project is your greatest innovation success? What is the story behind it?
To date, my greatest innovation success was working with a team to develop an injection molded top cowl for an outboard motor, that was said to be the largest component ever injection molded with a 33% glass reinforced Zytel® nylon with a painted class “A” surface which offered 30% weight savings and a 46% cost savings. This engine cowl has won numerous innovative awards.
The glass reinforced material was needed for the structural requirements of the application and a class “A” painted surface limited the ribs that would provide structure and dimensional control during injection molding. Design suggestions and alternate injection molding gate locations were evaluated via Computer Aided Engineering tools as glass fiber orientation contributed to warp of the intended mode shape. After many months of collaborating with the development team, a successful injection moldable cowl design emerged.
Tell us about something that made you grow the most as a leader in your field.
As my work shifted to primarily collaborating with our customers utilizing Computer Aided Engineering, our customers were embracing the initiative to engineer components, utilizing Computer Aided Engineering solely to reduce development time and costs, eliminating the prototype phase. This initiative complemented my aspirations as it promoted building strong working relationships with colleagues and customers to better understand correlation. It also demanded knowledgeable experienced analysts which encouraged advancing technical skills. Through software certification testing, I earned the highest level of technical competency for the Computer Aided Engineering injection molding software within DuPont. This industry initiative was integral in positioning myself into my leadership position today.
How are you and/or your company bringing innovation to the forefront?
DuPont is deeply committed to innovation and encourages expanding the breadth and depth of our technical expertise. Today’s Automotive trend toward electrification of vehicles has expanded our customer base with newer companies. I will continue to provide these companies with the guidance they need to successfully develop their new technologies. As a leader, I also will continue to share my knowledge through mentorship of junior colleagues.
What advice do you have for future female engineers?
My advice to future female engineers is to follow your dreams and passion with humble confidence, work hard, build strong working relationships, be the positive voice and continue to advance your technical expertise. Embrace the difficult challenges as they often provide the greatest rewards.