Students You Should Know: Erica Hill

What is it like to be the only female in a class full of guys? For senior manufacturing technology major Erica Hill, it serves as motivation to prove that women can succeed in the male-dominated field of metal casting.

Though she admits being the only girl in some of her classes "can be a struggle at times," it seems she is well on her way to overcoming this struggle -- Hill has been working part time as a process engineer at the John Deere foundry in downtown Waterloo since her freshmen year at UNI.

Erica Hill
Hill has found success in the male-dominated field of metal casting. She accepted a job at John Deere in 2012 as a process engineer while still taking classes at UNI.

"Not everyone thinks that females can take that responsibility," said Hill of her job with John Deere. "I basically just can't let it bother me. I keep doing what I have to do and basically prove to them that I can."

Still, being a successful female metal caster isn't enough for Hill. One of Hill's long-term goals is to get more females involved in metal casting. It seems she's off to a good start -- Hill's sister, a freshman at UNI, also works at John Deere, a fact that further motivates Hill.

"I'm really proud of her for taking that step and wanting to do that, because I think it's a great field to be in," she said.

What makes the field so great? For Hill, it's coming up with new ideas and learning new things. "I like the designing process, and coming up with new ways to produce better quality castings," she said. "I'm continually developing new skills."

Hill credits her classes at UNI with providing her with the knowledge and skills to succeed in her work at John Deere. Professor Scott Giese, especially, she said, taught her "everything that has to do with metal casting."

He taught her well -- in May 2012, Hill was offered a full-time position with John Deere. She quickly accepted the position.

"It is a big time commitment," said Hill. "I have to make sure I have 40 hours in a week, and then I have classes and obviously I have homework ... but I think it's worth it in the end."

One of the things that makes her job worthwhile is her appreciation of her employer. "They really care about their employees," she said. However, what really makes her job worthwhile is her relationship with her co-workers.

"I really enjoy the people that I work with," she said. "They more like a family rather than co-workers to me."

That's something Hill appreciates. She describes herself as "a big family person," and her close relationships with her family and friends are big motivators for her.

"I have a lot of positive people in my life," said Hill.

Although Hill admits, now that she is working full time, "I definitely don't spend as much time with my family as I used to," she is confident that her new job won't cause her personal life to suffer. "I'll find a way to make it work, I'm sure," she said.

That's an attitude Hill applies to all areas of her life. "I don't give up on things," she said. "I do whatever I can to get what I want."

While there are still some things Hill wants to achieve -- she'd like to visit high schools to help promote her area of study -- she's satisfied with what she's accomplished thus far.

"I get moments where I couldn't complain about anything, because I'm exactly where I want to be."

For information about UNI's Metal Casting Center, visit