- Forsyth Tech – Welding Technology, Associate’s in Mechanical Engineering, Project Management Certificate
- East Carolina University – BS, Industrial Engineering Technology
- Project Manager, Siemens Energy
When Nikki Murphy, a project manager at Siemens Energy, first considered entering the field of advanced manufacturing, she wasn’t sure which pathway was right for her, but she knew she was drawn to the sector. Nikki had always loved figuring out what makes things operate and how they work. She constantly wondered how things could work better. She knew that with the right skills, she could use these talents in her career path.
Advanced manufacturing is a leading industry in Forsyth County, with a workforce of 16,000 and growing. The interest in expanding and locating manufacturing operations here is palpable with advanced manufacturing projects accounting for about half of the current economic development pipeline. The industry offers a wide range of career pathways demanding a wide range of specialized skill sets.
Nikki’s first step into the field was attending Forsyth Tech – first obtaining a welding technology diploma in 2014 and then an Associate’s in Mechanical Engineering in 2017 and a project management certificate in 2018.
“Attending a technical college provided firsthand training that gave me an avenue to careers that would increase my quality of life,” says Nikki. “My career counselor helped me select the program of study that best suited my natural characteristics.”
Having obtained her training in welding technology, Nikki began her career at Siemens Energy in 2014 starting as a metallurgical technician. While working at Siemens, she continued to develop her skills through education, first with her Forsyth Tech associate’s degree and then with a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Engineering at East Carolina University.
Nikki now serves as a project manager at Siemens Energy, overseeing teams that repair and manufacture turbines and other parts that are essential to maintaining the power grid across the United States.
The Siemens Energy Winston Service Center has been in operation for more than 50 years in Rural Hall and has continuously worked closely with Forsyth Tech to develop the workforce pipeline.
“The programs offered through Forsyth Tech closely align with the skills we are expecting for our employees, says plant manager Cory Phillips. “We see these programs as critical for our workforce development today and in the future.”
Siemens Energy collaborates with Forsyth Tech in many ways, including as an employer partner with the LEAP program (Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Program) and the BILT Team (Business and Industry Leadership Team). Nikki currently serves as the BILT team chair, leading the group as employers come together to inform curriculums and programs of study offered at Forsyth Tech so they are aligned with workforce needs.
“Employer partnerships are exceptionally important to the success of our students and programs. The employers collectively provide insight into their needs so we can better tailor the curriculum,” says Cyndi Johnson, Advanced Manufacturing Department Chair at Forsyth Tech.
“For the BILT partnership, we have seen great benefit in providing feedback and direction to various program curriculums to ensure the students are receiving skills to directly apply in the workplace today. By allowing employers to have input into the program direction, it helps to ensure the education students receive translates on the job,” says Cyndi.
For Nikki, turning her lifelong curiosity about how things work into a successful engineering career has been fulfilling. While her career is rewarding, family comes first. “My wife and daughter are the most important people in my life. I aim to be a great mother and positive role model for my daughter,” Nikki says.
Those who know Nikki say she is succeeding in being a positive role model not only for her daughter but for other women like her who are interested in STEM careers. “Nikki is proof that hard work can pay off. She is also proof that women have a place in this field. Since I entered the manufacturing industry in the 80s, I have seen women work hard to prove they belong – and Nikki has done that. She is a role model for female students in several of our programs,” says Cyndi Johnson.
Nikki says to understand the impact of her career, just flip a light switch. “We all have a vital role at Siemens Energy in contributing to the manufacturing and repairs of turbine engines. For anyone who would like to know how that feels, turn the light switch off and on again. To be a part of a community of people who are collaborating to provide power all over the world… well, that is something!”