Episode 58 – Becky Mueller

Becky Mueller is a crash test engineer – her dream job from the time she was 10 years old. She has BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and is passionate about saving lives through the work she does to improve vehicle safety.

Episode Notes

Becky dreamed of being a crash test engineer since she was 10 years old and saw a crash test commercial on TV. Her love of math and science as a child provided a foundation for her to pursue degrees in mechanical engineering always with the goal of becoming a crash test engineer – which she not only succeeded in, but truly loves and is passionate about.

Becky shares what she does for a job, some great opportunities she has had in her role both in travel and cool experiences, and the importance of being an advocate for women in STEM and mechanical engineering in particular.

Prior to meeting Becky, I didn’t realize this was a job and it really sounds like so much fun and an important way to make a difference in the world – keeping our vehicles safe!

Music used in the podcast: Higher Up, Silverman Sound Studio

Acronyms, Definitions, and Fact Check

Approximately 13.8% of bachelors degrees in mechanical engineering go to women, a number which has stayed relatively flat over the past decade. (https://www.bu.edu/eng/about/dean-lutchen/engineerings-gender-diversity-problem/)

In the automotive industry, 20% are female, this drops to less than 10% at the executive level. (https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/people-news/2020/12/01/women-feel-under-represented-in-automotive-leadership-roles)

Trains first came to Europe in 1826. Trains first came to Japan in 1872. (wikipedia)

Nils Bolin and the three point seat belt – Before 1959, only two-point lap belts were available in automobiles; for the most part, the only people who regularly buckled up were race car drivers. The two-point belts strapped across the body, with a buckle placed over the abdomen, and in high-speed crashes had been known to cause serious internal injuries. In 1958, Volvo Car Corporation hired Bohlin, who had designed ejector seats for Saab fighter airplanes in the 1950s, to be the company’s first chief safety engineer. (A relative of Volvo CEO Gunnar Engelau had died in a car crash, which helped motivate the company to increase its safety measures.) Bohlin had worked with the more elaborate four-point harnesses in airplanes, and knew that system would be untenable in an automobile. In designing the new seat belt, he concentrated on providing a more effective method of protecting driver and passenger against the impact of the swift deceleration that occurred when a car crashed. 

Within a year, Bohlin had developed the three-point seat belt, introduced in Volvo cars in 1959. The new belts secured both the upper and lower body; its straps joined at hip level and buckled into what Bohlin called “an immovable anchorage point” below the hip, so that they could hold the body safely in the event of a crash. According to Bohlin (as quoted by The New York Times in his 2002 obituary): “It was just a matter of finding a solution that was simple, effective and could be put on conveniently with one hand.” (www.history.com)

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