Our “Meet the Team” series profiles the creative and curious people of First Mode. We are driven to find purposeful technology solutions to the world’s most important challenges. We take our work seriously but ourselves not too seriously. Want to work with us? View our open positions here.
Hi Shannon! What do you do at First Mode?
I’m a Mechanical Systems Engineer working on an underground diesel-electric haul truck. Although I do a lot of regular mechanical engineering, much of my job involves managing integration needs and mechanical modeling and simulation work.
What are you working on right now?
As detailed design has been ramping up on this project, I’ve been working across domains to integrate the cabin and diesel engine systems to the vehicle while fleshing out and analyzing the forward part of our chassis structure.
Why is this important?
This project is working towards decarbonization in a tricky industry through creative engineering. In the challenging environment of underground mining, a hybrid electric truck is a step towards greener mining. It’s like how I wish I could be vegan but can’t give up cheese—I think it’s important to do what we can where we can.
What drew you to First Mode originally?
I got my degree in Aerospace Engineering, drawn to the difficult problems and challenges the industry presents. But while finishing up my degree during the Covid era, I was forced to think about how threatening today’s climate issues really are. First Mode recognizes and tackles the difficult and challenging problems the climate crisis presents.
How did your passion for engineering and tech begin?
Growing up, I didn’t really see engineering in my future. But when I was 15, I followed my twin brother to our high school’s FIRST Robotics program so I could hitch a ride home, and I was hooked!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
First my alarm clock, then my podcast addiction. I have a queue of daily podcasts I compulsively listen to nearly every morning. At this point it’s almost background noise but I somehow can’t break the habit!
What does your typical day look like?
Like the rest of the Washingtonians on my project, my day is often split between Seattle hours and Perth hours. As a morning person I like to do a lot of independent work in the mornings, and in the afternoon I catch up with my Perth colleagues and button up actions before clocking out.
Did you have a hero or heroine figure growing up?
I’ve always really looked up to the people in my life, from my parents to teachers and friends. While it’s great to have a role model to idealize from afar, I’ve found it really important to see that even the coolest people out there struggle, and we can all help each other to do better.
Do you have a mantra, a motto, or a mission statement?
Nowadays I’m just trying to be present. I’m really motivated by experiencing things around me and in the world and recognizing how I play into those stories.
What is great about mechanical systems engineering?
The best part for me is the learning potential. Through my role I’ve touched so many disciplines and types of work, and it’s so exciting to be a part of bringing different systems together.
Could you point to a project that you are most proud of?
I haven’t had a chance to be on a big project yet, but I’m proud of trying a lot of smaller projects through college and my internships. They have all taken bravery to dive into and taught me important lessons!
What do you think is the most significant discovery or human endeavor of the last few years?
How people have been empowered towards activism by the internet in order to drive solutions to injustices and the climate crisis.
Why does it matter that we keep inventing, testing, and creating?
I think we face a lot of formidable challenges today, and we’ll need to do a lot of inventing, testing, and creating to tackle them!
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Other than the podcast addiction, I love cooking, reading, amateur woodworking, and trying to solve the crossword (which I’m not great at…yet). I also really enjoy skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer, along with traveling to new locations to enjoy those activities.
Have you learned anything especially great in the last year?
I’ve learned SO much about what goes into a designing a vehicle, specifically how interconnected every decision is to the vehicle’s design and performance.