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Cummins Inc. Executive Shares the Benefits of SAE Involvement

Posted: December 5, 2023

With the role of Executive Director, Cummins Software and Electronics Engineering at Cummins Inc., why would Joan Wills devote so much time to SAE?

“One of the things that brings me energy is making connections between different technologies or between people. I find it motivating to contribute my talents to the formation of strategies that will be effective, and I believe in the missions of SAE International and the SAE Foundation,” Joan said. “The mission of the Foundation is supportive of the success of SAE and the industry as a whole. Right now, we have such a transformation in our technology that our industry is facing and having enough STEM talent is really important.”

Currently, Joan is a member of SAE International’s Board of Directors, an SAE Foundation Trustee, and recent inductee to the Class of 2022 SAE Fellows.

Joan first discovered SAE early in her career when a coworker was a part of an SAE standards committee. Through that relationship, she learned about the value of cross-industry collaboration to create SAE standards, specifically driving progress in an emerging technology area. Intrigued, she knew she wanted to be a part of the work SAE does and found ways to be involved.

Over the years, Joan has dedicated her time working on diversifying the engineering industry, working with the Society of Women Engineers, among other diversity engineering societies. Throughout her career, she’s continuously returned to SAE for the technical content and conferences to talk with others who were facing similar challenges.

Joan currently serves as the SAE Board of Directors liaison to the SAE Foundation through her role as a SAE Foundation Trustee. As a trustee, Joan supports SAE’s STEM education programs, scholarships, and awards by developing relationships and raising funds. She loves connecting with the developers of SAE’s A World In Motion® (AWIM®) STEM education programming and seeing the curriculum in action in the classrooms.

Inspired by the positive stories from teachers using AWIM in their classrooms, Joan sees an opportunity to bring together her passions for diversity and STEM education. She noted that our future workforce needs to see people that look like them in the STEM field in order to even consider a career in STEM.

“A lot of young learners see (themselves in) their teachers, but not all teachers in STEM education understand the careers that are available for those who pursue STEM. Demystifying that and bringing diverse individuals into the classroom for the students to see, helps them envision a future,” Joan said. “Getting a STEM degree is hard work, but there’s lots of really amazing work that you can do. I think students, specifically in underserved communities, don’t always have those role models.”

Joan is working to close the STEM gap and increasing the minority talent that will expand the mobility industry. This drive for change is a crucial part of her career, and she credits SAE for giving her opportunities to increase her momentum for personal growth.

“Throughout my career, SAE has given me the opportunity to think outside the box that I work in on a day-to-day basis and talk with people about how to think differently about new challenges,” she said.

We can’t wait to see all that Joan accomplishes.