Engineer By Day, Gallery Owner By Night
Alisyn Malek says engineering opens up the door to an ocean of opportunities.
While engineering and art seem to come from two separate worlds, Brighton native and former General Motors engineer Alisyn Malek knows what the two fields have in common.
When designing as an engineer, Malek said she would often pause to ask, "What do I want this to be?" — the same question artists ask before creating a new piece.
Malek, 27, who is now a business manager for General Motors' (GM) hybrid cars, knows where these two seemingly opposite fields intersect because she has a foot in both worlds. She is one of the science and technology leaders whom Patch is highlighting in recognition of Women's History Month.
Engineering is her day job, she said, but she also owns the art gallery Corktown Studios in downtown Detroit. She and her partners opened the gallery on 14th Street one year ago. Engineers can have other passions, like her art gallery, which she said has taught her more about business for her job with GM managing hybrid cars.
"I switched over to the business management position because I wanted to learn more about the back end of things," she said. "Why do we make the decisions to work on the cars we work on?"
Malek said she didn't work with many women earlier in her career. She was a release engineer at GM working on new technology like charging components for the Chevy Spark
She spoke to local high school students March 13, along with a group of panelists, about what it meant to be a women in the workforce at GM's "Women in Electrification" panel for Women's History Month.
"I think all of the panelists pointed out that over time it has become less of an issue to be a woman in engineering," she said. "But to be a woman in a nontraditional field you have to really know your stuff to be on par."
The purpose of GM's panel was to excite students about the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Malek said appreciating the progress women have made is important, but it should be a reminder to reflect on what areas need further progression, such as realizing what women can contribute.
"Just the way that women approach problems differently, it adds diversity," she said. "Having that input drives to better solutions."