Jane Oberhauser: Engineering a Better World

Jane Oberhauser, an accomplished engineer and problem solver, has a passion for science, creative thinking, and advancing technology. Oberhauser plays a pivotal role at Nexceris, a Lewis Center, Ohio company. Nexceris develops efficient energy storage and production systems for the world’s transition to clean energy.

Oberhauser’s primary focus is on the sensor team where she develops intelligent algorithms that can detect the earliest signs of lithium-ion battery failure. This important technology makes energy storage safer and more efficient. Her problem-solving role at Nexceris makes Oberhauser a remarkable figure in the field of energy development.

Oberhauser said her interest in science didn’t follow the typical trajectory. Growing up in a rural setting, have access to formal STEM programs and she didn’t tinker with cars. However, she said her love for calculus and her upbringing on a farm surrounded by ingenuity and resourcefulness fueled her curiosity. Creative problem-solving became second nature to her, and she said now applies these skills to her work at Nexceris.

Oberhauser pursued a STEM major in college and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio University. Her academic journey equipped her with the foundational knowledge necessary for her current role.

In looking back at her journey to a career in STEM, Oberhauser notes that she faced a common challenge: a lack of female role models in engineering. Imagining her future as an engineer was difficult because she didn’t know anyone like herself in that field. While her generation has seen more women entering STEM, the older generation—those in the roles she aspires to—are predominantly men. Despite this, Oberhauser remains hopeful about the future for women and girls in science.

Her commitment to science extends beyond her own career. Although she didn’t have many female mentors, she recognized the importance of mentorship. She actively encourages young female scientists and those interested in science.

Three important tips that Oberhauser believes will help diversify the science fields are:

  1. 3-D toys: Encouraging toys for young children that promote problem-solving and three-dimensional manipulation (think blocks and Legos!) alongside traditionally feminine toys that foster empathy and storytelling is crucial. Both are needed, regardless of gender, to shape well-rounded individuals who will be able to desire and develop a better world.
  2. Persistence: Frequently, young women face challenges when transitioning into STEM fields. Many struggle with 3-D problem-solving skills that may not have been developed as young children, but these can be learned with extra work and determination. Oberhauser acknowledges that the journey may be tougher but emphasizes that it’s worthwhile.
  3. Look forward: She advises young women to think about what technological advances are needed to build a better world. What does a better world look like to them? If they pursue a career in those areas, they will be positively motivated to fulfill an important purpose.

Oberhauser exemplifies resilience, creativity, and a commitment to making the world better through science and engineering. As she continues her work at Nexceris, she said she wants to inspire others to follow their passions and break down barriers. She is an inspirational figure who reminds others that diversity and inclusivity are essential for progress. Her work on transforming how we create, store, and use energy paves the way for a more respectful treatment of the earth. International Women & Girls in Science Day celebrates trailblazers like Jane Oberhauser, who paved the way for future generations.