Mentor Month Matches: Andrea Strzelec and Becca Abbott-McCune

By Rachel Wetzel posted 02-10-2023 12:09 PM


One of the most powerful parts of any mentee-mentor relationship is the ability to pay it forward.

Throughout her 19 years in the automotive field, including grad school and 13 post doctorate, Dr. Andrea Strzelec, Program Director & Associate Scientist at Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering, has had many mentors.

Now, it’s her turn.

“I have benefitted incredibly from the mentors I have had over the years – my formal mentors (Profs. Foster and Rutland who were my graduate advisers at UW, Drs. Stuart Daw and Todd Toops at ORNL) and informal mentors (Drs. Richard Blint, Galen Fisher, and Ewa Bardasz just to name a few). I felt a need to try to be that for someone else – and SAE provides an excellent framework for it,” Andrea said.

Andrea’s seeing that goal through by continuing her stint as an SAE mentor with her latest mentee, Fuel Cell Test Engineer at GM and Kettering University ’22 graduate Becca Abbott-McCune.

Though the two are early in the phases of their professional relationship, their conversations have already proven fruitful for both parties. Becca and Andrea have talked through Becca’s goals to understand higher education options, extracurricular opportunities, and networking while reviewing and improving her own skills.

“I learned that there is a distinction between organizations management and team management with the skills required and day-to-day tasks. Because of this, I am now considering an MBA in addition to a technical certification,” Becca said. “We also reviewed opportunities to get involved with the industry community. I will be looking more into joining an SAE standards committee to practice effective communication and technical writing.”

Andrea is excited to watch Becca on her professional journey as she continues to grow and provide a helping hand when needed.

“I could tell from the moment I met her that she is very special and ‘one to watch’ – I just know that she will do amazing things,” Andrea said.

An additional benefit for both Andrea and Becca comes from having another woman to rely on in a field that traditionally has more male representation. Lending a hand to lift up younger women in mobility is a big motivator for Andrea as a mentor, and seeing a successful woman on the trajectory she wants to follow has been a help to Becca.

“I was able to reframe my perspective on how I discuss aspirations and preferences,” Becca said. “Being able to gain insight from Andrea’s wealth of experience has been very impactful and I am appreciative of the opportunity to be her mentee.”  

Check out the video interview today!