Women in Model Making: Jennifer Moran

submitted by Samanthi Martinez

Jennifer Moran, Johns Hopkins University – Applied Physics Lab 

“When I tell people that I am a model maker,” says Jennifer Moran, “I will get the occasional person that will think of a whole different type of modeling. I have to go on to explain to them that it is actually something way cooler. Majority of the time people usually get the idea after I explain it to them.” 

Jennifer recently launched her career in model making with her first full-time job at Johns Hopkins University – Applied Physics Lab. To prepare for entering the field, she started with earning an Associate’s degree from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, which she attended from 2014-2016. She also did a summer internship at Steelcase, Inc.

“I would encourage everyone to do an internship,” says Jennifer. “There are so many advantages to being totally immersed in your field of interest, plus you have the opportunity to pick the brains of all your experienced coworkers!” 

Jennifer learned of model making while still unsure of what she wanted to do with her career. She had taken a couple years to save money for school and was ready to start the search but wanted to find something that she would enjoy doing every day.

“I am a ‘hands on’ person,” Jennifer says, “and have always loved being in my own world creating.” She started her search by speaking to an advisor at NWTC. He pointed her in the direction of engineering but she still wanted something more hands on. “As I scrolled through the list of programs,” she recalls, “Prototype and Design popped out to me.  It had variety and offered the opportunity for me to use my problem solving skills and work with a variety of materials and different processes. I decided to take a chance with it, curiosity getting the better of me, and I am very happy I did!”

Jennifer enjoys the variety of skills and techniques that model making brings to her work. She says she plans to keep learning and improving her skills day-to-day. “I feed off of my coworkers’ many years of experience and try to experiment with some of my own ideas too,” she explains.

This young model maker most enjoys working with her hands, using her creativity to figure out a new way of doing things, problem solving and collaborating with teammates, and the feeling of satisfaction when a project is completed. “I love that there is always something to learn,” she adds.

Jennifer has some insights to share with other young people entering the field of model making:

  • Take chances and learn from your mistakes. You don’t know until you try.
  • When you don’t know, ask. Take advantage of the wisdom of those who have done it before you. You don’t need to know it all.
  • Take criticism as a learning opportunity. Be thankful for that person’s honesty and know they mean to help you.
  • Be confident in yourself and your ideas. Everyone sees things differently; allow others to benefit from your view.
  • Some words of advice that were passed on to me from Pete Mack that have stuck with me are to “take pride in your work.” No matter how big or small the job.

Jennifer also adds some particularly valuable advice to young women model makers: “As a woman, don’t feel like you have to make up for your lack of masculinity in some way. Femininity is cool.  If someone makes you feel any lesser for it, show them that it’s not just a ‘man’s job’. Skill comes with practice and seeking.”

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