UW PEOPLE’s Julia Shaw Graduates in
|Julia Shaw interned for three summers with Rockwell
Automation and is moving to Cleveland, Ohio to begin
working for Rockwell in June.
Shaw selected UW-Madison to attend engineering school because of the PEOPLE Program.
“The PEOPLE Program really solidified my decision to go to this campus,” Shaw said. “It was a good choice financially and it was a
good choice based on my decision to go into engineering. I just knew that they would be there to support me throughout my career as a
college student. And I think the tutoring resources and the mentorship and having advisors available is a really important part of your
college career. That’s the real support that the PEOPLE Program gave me.”
What has also aided Shaw’s education is the relationship that she developed with Rockwell Automation early in her career at UW-
Madison when she interned with them in the summer after her freshman year. In some ways, Shaw’s internships with Rockwell turned
into a type of try-out employment as Rockwell and Shaw were able to determine if they were a good fit for each other over the course of
As an industrial engineering student, Shaw was learning how to design and redesign systems in an industrial setting. Shaw’s
internships at Rockwell allowed her to practically apply what she was learning in the classroom. Her first internship was in technical
“I was in charge of selling a sensor to other companies that purchase from us,” Shaw said. “That position entailed me going out to meet
other engineers and basically giving a little speech about our product line and this new sensor and its features compared to some of the
older sensors or compared to some of our competitors’ sensors. That was a good introduction to the company. I learned a lot about our
Bass product line. I also got to meet some of our clients like Miller/Coors. I travelled a lot around Wisconsin with that one.”
In her second internship, Shaw worked on the plant floor of Rockwell’s Mequon, Wisconsin manufacturing plant designing and setting
up a production line.
“I was on a high horsepower line where I was actually involved in setting up the initial set-up of the line,” Shaw said. “We were running
pilot testing for our high horsepower products. So I actually got to see everything from drawing to actual fabrication, the whole process
of that. I was also quite deeply involved with their kits. Every manufacturing line also has to have repair kits in case fuses blow out or
something breaks. We have to have a process established for that as well. My part in this was establishing processes, both written and
orally to make sure communication was done and making sure that the line was set up so that operators would know how to produce
the product the same way every time.”
Shaw’s third internship was in component engineering.
“That group mainly focuses on understanding our product at a component level and working with our suppliers to make sure that we
have products that meet our specifications and making sure that we get good pricing on our products by ordering larger quantities of the
same product perhaps and by using preferred suppliers from our networks,” Shaw said.
Without her really knowing it, Rockwell was looking at Shaw to play some future leadership roll at Rockwell and was exposing her to
many different aspects of their operations, both the aspects that she enjoyed doing and those that took her out of her comfort zone.
“They knew that as an industrial engineer, industrialization is kind of a natural move for me to move into, use all of the tools and
techniques that you learn in your classes,” Shaw said. “But when you are going into something like component engineering where
mainly electrical engineers work, there is a lot of learning involved in that. It was a pretty challenging position for me this year. And I
actually had the opportunity to work remotely too because a lot of this work is research based and calling and working with suppliers to
get information about their products. I was able to do that as well. Rockwell really stresses the importance of having cross-functional
training. It makes you a more well-rounded person. And it really gives you more insight on how our products work and how the company
works. That is why they are putting me through another rotational program when I move into full-time work. That is Rockwell Automation’
s Engineering Service Leadership Development Program. It’s a mouthful of words. I probably have like the longest title and I’m probably
just a participant or something, but all of that is part of the title.”
Upon graduation from UW-Madison, Shaw had already secured a full-time position with them and is in the process of moving to
Cleveland, Ohio, the site of her next rotation.
“They put you through four rotations in two years in four different departments,” Shaw said. “So technically, these three internships I’ve
had with them are like three different rotations. And they are going to put me through four different rotations after that, so at the end, I’ll
have seven different experiences on different teams. Their hope is to get that cross-functional training. And with that, I should be more
confident in my abilities to lead a group. They’ve said that they’ve seen a lot of skills that I’ve demonstrated that they really liked and
that I could have the leadership qualities that they are looking for in management. So after this, there is a very strong possibility that I’ll
move into management pretty quickly. But even so, it might be a small management of just a few engineers or a few operators or
something like that. There is really no rush for me. I’m really in it for the experience. I am really looking for just that diverse set of
experiences right now. I hope after having seven different experiences, I will know what I like.”
While engineering is a very male-dominated field, Shaw feels that industrial engineering has become more equitable for women
because it is almost like a technical business school. In fact, someday when she goes back for a Master’s degree, it will probably be an
MBA. But for now, she is happy to work at Rockwell.
“I’m looking forward to this position,” Shaw said. “It has some international work where I’ll be travelling to Singapore as well as
Monterrey, Mexico. I haven’t even left the United States yet, so this will be a huge new experience for me. And I kind of expressed
interest in travelling because I haven’t had that experience yet. I think Rockwell has been very, very good to me in meeting my needs in
It’s been a long, hard road for Shaw as she has made her way through the educational system. And now she will be designing systems
of her own.
By Jonathan Gramling
As Julia Shaw came of age, her parents who were both lawyers gave her a
piece of advice. ‘Don’t become a lawyer.’ Shaw graduated in May as a
PEOPLE Scholar with a degree in industrial engineering. Shaw is a gifted
student who excelled in the sciences as well as the humanities during her
high school career at Rufus King High School in Milwaukee. She could have
taken up a number of career areas. But her exposure to engineering through
UW summer programs set her on a path toward her future career.
“I had a few summer experiences on this campus outside of PEOPLE
Program, one being the Society of Women Engineers’ Engineering Summer
Camp Days,” Shaw said. “It was a one-week program where you stayed in
the dorms. I’m pretty sure I did this the summer between my junior and
senior years in high school. That was just a lot of high school women getting
together and living in the dorms and touring factories and doing little
experiments and learning what types of engineering arte out there. I really
liked it. It was like little summer camps like that which really solidified my
decision to go into this after high school.”