Tanya Foutch (ME ’95), quality engineering supervisor at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has dedicated her entire career to sharing knowledge with others, and firmly believes it’s her responsibility to pass on life lessons with the community and next generation. Both a leader in the engineering profession and a mentor for others, Foutch was recognized for her technical achievements, leadership, and community service with U.S. Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine’s 2019 Black Engineer of the Year Gerald Johnson Legacy Award.
For more than 20 years as part of FCA in Kokomo, Indiana, Foutch has gained leadership experience in several areas ranging from solving warranty issues to collaborating with design engineers in order to implement transmission improvements in the plant. She leads a team focused on identifying quality issues for the company’s current and future products, including nine-speed and six-speed transmissions, in addition to hybrid vehicles.
“It’s a tremendous honor to receive this recognition for my accomplishments,” says Foutch. In regard to her professional achievements, she adds, “I had a boss who saw potential in me. He always encouraged me and pushed me to go forward.”
Throughout her career, Foutch has collaborated with supportive colleagues, and highlights the importance of working across departments to learn and understand new concepts. Today, she is committed to providing her team with the same type of support and mentorship opportunities that will help them achieve success.
While Foutch’s professional accomplishments have served as the foundation for receiving this award, notable contributions within the community make her stand out. As an advocate for STEM education for youth, Foutch launched Gearing Up Girls for STEM in 2018, a successful camp for middle school girls hosted by the Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region.
“My passion was to introduce girls to the possibility of being in the [STEM] field,” says Foutch of the event, which introduced STEM to approximately 30 young girls last year. The two-day camp exposed girls to such topics as aerodynamics and the basics of welding. This year the camp will teach girls how to code robots and design experiments utilizing optimal methods.
Deeply committed to the advancement of engineering opportunities for all, Foutch is looking toward her next goal: to create a STEM camp for boys. “We wanted to bring girls up to speed, but now the boys are left behind.” She envisions a similar hands-on learning program that is run by the men at FCA for boys, offering additional mentoring opportunities for kids in the community.
Foutch received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1995. She went on to earn her master's degree in business administration from Anderson University in 2000.