Talent from Across the Globe

When Alpine Advanced Materials extended a job offer to Marinela (“Nella”) Peto, little did they know the huge impact this hiring decision would have – on both the candidate and the company. In 2019, Alpine was at a pivotal stage in the business, and in need of a very specific type of engineer who could grow and scale a proprietary material. However, finding good, local talent in 2019 right before the COVID-19 pandemic was a real challenge. Little did Alpine know at the time that one of their best engineering hires would come from halfway across the globe.

World map with Albania at the center

Albania is a small country in southeastern Europe. (Courtesy of Google Maps)

Engineering in the Works

Growing up in the small southeastern European country of Albania, Nella never dreamt of being an aerospace engineer because in her home country, career choices are greatly influenced by external factors like the economy, social status, family influence, employment opportunities, etc. So Nella graduated with a business degree from the University of Tirana and from there began her career as a Research and Development Specialist at City Hall of Fier. It was in that role that she was exposed to various engineering projects, which sparked her curiosity and germinated an affinity for the profession.

Nella in her cap and gown on the big screen at her graduation from the University of Buffalo as she accepts her Aerospace Engineering degree.

Nella double-majored at the University of Buffalo, earning both an Aerospace Engineering degree and Mechanical Engineering degree.

Opportunities Abroad

When Nella left Albania and moved to Buffalo, New York, she realized that the external factors that prevented her from pursuing engineering in Albania were no longer holding her back. So she decided to go back to school and earned degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. As if that wasn’t challenging enough on its own, she accomplished all of this while getting married, having two children, holding down a part-time job, learning English and adapting to the American culture. Juggling so many responsibilities while earning two additional undergraduate degrees was certainly difficult for Nella, but she looks back at her educational journey very fondly. One of her favorite memories from that time was when an engineering professor announced that there would be “no makeup exams” and she thought, “What does makeup have to do with an engineering exam?” It didn’t make sense to her as a non-native English speaker, but she followed the rule anyway and didn’t wear any makeup to that professor’s exam.

Nella in front of Niagara Falls in Buffalo, New York.

After moving to the United States from Albania, Nella lived in Buffalo, New York for seven years.

Against the Odds

A job relocation for Nella’s husband prompted their family’s move to Dallas, and after a year working in Master Data Management engineering, Nella decided to pursue her master’s degree in Mechanical Systems Engineering Technology at the University of North Texas.

Post-graduation, equipped with her fourth degree, Nella began the daunting task of interviewing. She was looking for the perfect opportunity, but the odds were stacked against her. Not only was she an immigrant, having only recently learned English, but she was also a mother to two young children with another on the way, and no real “on-the-job” experience to speak of. Most women who also hold the full time job of motherhood can attest that even in the best of circumstances, interviewing and finding a new job can be exhausting and overwhelming. But Nella pushed through.

Most interviews led to closed doors, but Alpine Alpine Advanced Materials saw extreme potential in Nella and offered her the job – despite her being six months pregnant.

Nella in her cap and gown from UNT standing next to her oldest son. The oldest son is holding her degree, and she is holding her younger son.

She earned her master’s degree in Mechanical Systems Engineering Technology from the University of North Texas.

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

Nella is known in the office not only for being a very talented engineer, but a very fashionable one as well. Standing right over 5’2 in her stilettos, she blends professionalism, personality and punctuality day in and day out. She is on time, always dependable and never without her lipstick.

A headshot of Nella.

Nella started working at Alpine Advanced Materials in October 2019.

Nella in the News

Recently, Nella was published and acknowledged by her alma mater, University of North Texas. When interviewed by the university about her role at Alpine and what she has learned in her career, Nella is quick to credit her education and the importance of working as a team. “One skill I’ve learned is time management, without which I could not achieve graduating with a 4.0 GPA, publishing a thesis and two research papers, while also being a full-time student, RA, and mother of 2,” she said. “The second one is teamwork. In every class, we had many projects that taught me that no matter how successful you might be as an individual, the overall success depends on your ability to work well as a team.” Read more of UNT’s feature on Nella here.

Nella standing in front of her thesis presentation at UNT.

Her thesis at UNT was “Topology and lattice-based structural design optimization for additively manufactured medical implants”.

Alpine Advanced Materials celebrates Nella Peto not only on International Women in Engineering Day (June 23), but every day. She has been an amazing contributor to our team focused on product physical properties such as EMI shielding, corrosion resistance, bonding techniques, and UV and radiation exposure. Nella delivers team-wide training on product features such as these and is poised to be a leader not only at Alpine Advanced Materials but in the field of engineering for years to come.

To read more about Nella’s accomplishments and publications, click below.

Thesis: “Topology and Lattice-based structural design optimization for additively manufactured medical implants”
https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1505245/

Research Paper: “Structural design optimization of knee replacement implants for Additive Manufacturing.”
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2351978919309527

Research Paper: “Mechanical Behavior of Lattice Structures Fabricated by Direct Light Processing with Compression Testing and Size Optimization of Unit Cells”
https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/IMECE/proceedings-abstract/IMECE2019/59407/V003T04A031/1072992

Research Paper: “Study of the mechanical behavior of lattice structures used in the design of a shoulder hemi-prosthesis”
https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/medicaldiagnostics/article-abstract/doi/10.1115/1.4051419/1111111/A-Proof-of-Concept-Study-of-the-Mechanical?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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