Erin Wormald

Erin Wormald
Age: 37
Title: Program manager, ArcelorMittal Global Research & Development
Big break: Taking part in a project to re-engineer key components of a typical C-segment vehicle to reduce weight

When Toyota Motor Corp. selects the types of steel for its vehicles, the company must order up to seven years in advance.

As a program manager in ArcelorMittal's Hamilton, Ontario, technical center, Erin Wormald must make sure Toyota gets what it wants.

"It is definitely a changing landscape," Wormald said. "I have to be familiar with all the different grades -- the commercial grades as well as new ones that might be available."

Wormald, 37, has chosen a key specialty at a time when automakers are switching to ultrahigh-strength steels to cut vehicle weight.

Fourteen years ago, she joined Canadian steelmaker Dofasco after receiving her metallurgy degree at McMaster University in Hamilton. ArcelorMittal acquired Dofasco in 2006.

After the acquisition, Wormald's career got a boost when she joined a two-year project to design lighter vehicles. Her team re-engineered 43 key components of a typical C-segment vehicle, including the body-in-white and the doors, chassis and exhaust.

Wormald's team figured out how to slash 14 percent from the weight of a 2010 compact car. She was subsequently assigned to adapt some of those weight-saving techniques for Toyota.

Wormald says her interest in automotive engineering stretches to her childhood in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

In kindergarten, Wormald decided she wanted to be an auto mechanic. "My dad was a tinkerer, and he was constantly fixing things," she said. "That got me interested in the mechanical side of things."

In 10th grade, a friend invited Wormald to take a drafting course with her. "I just loved it," Wormald recalled. "The teacher became a mentor and introduced me to engineering. He really pushed me."

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