‘Supermom’ engineers perfect balance
JOHNSTON — Nicole Liptak has been an engineer for more than two decades with Aptiv, formerly Delphi Packard. And for more than a decade, she’s been a mother.
The now-senior advanced development engineer, who graduated summa cum laude in 1999 with a chemical engineering degree from Youngstown State University, recently was honored for developing patents that help with the manufacturing of electric vehicles.
But her top priority, according to Liptak, is being a mother — and to manage those priorities takes the skill of an engineer.
“Managing everything in my life is not easy, but one method I employ is the use of handwritten lists. The process of devising each task, writing it all down and checking them off helps me to ensure projects and plans are accomplished on time and in the right order,” she said.
It also helps to lean on a good partner, and in Liptak’s case it’s Tristan Liptak, whom she married on Aug. 28, 2004. Together, they are a team for their two daughters, 11-year-old Ava and 7-year-old Alaina.
Tristan has been his wife’s biggest fan, saying she has excelled in both jobs.
“She definitely is a ‘supermom,'” he said.
The framework is continuity and consistency, both agreed.
“My husband and I have the same goals and expectations of our girls. First and foremost is to treat each other with respect,” she said.
As for raising two girls in the household, Liptak said keeping rivalries on the back burner is high on the list.
“First we teach team to realize your sibling is your lifelong best friend and strongest advocate,” she said. “We stress simple family rules — things such as: telling the truth, saying I love you, trying your best, sharing with others and being grateful for what you have. Finally, we teach them to always show appreciation not only to each other, but to our family members, our friends, to our community and to our country.”
Both parents said school work comes first. This was evidenced Wednesday at the family’s Love Warner Road home when Liptak sat down with her two girls to help them with homework.
Sixth-grader Ava said her mom helps her with mathematics, especially the word problems.
“She helps me with percentages,” Ava said.
Alaina said she likes it when her mom and her read books.
“Growing up, my parents instilled in me an admiration of learning — the simple, yet difficult, idea that success is earned through hard work and dedication. As parents now, my husband and I supplement their school work with play and experiences to facilitate development of their sense of critical thinking, time management, patience, and creativity — all important skills in adulthood,” Liptak said.
The teamwork approach helps the family keep up with both housework and yard work.
“We make it fun and utilize our chores as additional family time. Our home is not always perfectly kept, but it is a place where we have made and will continue to make beautiful and lasting memories,” she said.
When the pressure gets hectic for mom, she said she heads for nature.
“We are fortunate to own a great deal of property, and I enjoy taking moments to experience nature and spend time outside maintaining the yard. Through these moments of solitude, I can reflect on all the blessings I have in my life … First and foremost, my family, that brings me the utmost joy, feelings of true happiness, and expressions of love every day,” she said.
Her dedication to family doesn’t mean that she lets her career slack. She recently was inducted into Aptiv’s Innovation Hall of Fame.
“I received this nomination after having obtained 10 patents and was able to further distinguish myself as the first female engineer from North America to receive this honor. In November 2019, I was invited to the Hall of Fame Ceremony held in Cologne, Germany, in which my husband, girls and mom were all present. This was an experience of a lifetime for all of us,” she said.
As a young engineer, Liptak said she had the benefit of working for a boss who saw her potential and advanced her skillset through specialized training.
One of her patents involves safely unhooking the battery from the car without fear of shock.
She explained her thought process in developing the patents.
“The design process always begins with understanding the customer’s requirements. These requirements create the foundation to every project and serve as the backbone for the design,” she said.
Once the requirements are completely understood, then one can begin thinking about how to “wow” the customer.
She said her engineering team tries to think of ways to exceed customer expectations. They do this by putting themselves in the customers’ shoes.
“The answers to these questions combined with working alongside a world-class set of engineers initiate the design process and enable new ideas to flourish,” she said.
“Over the years, my profession has provided me with a great amount of reward and recognition. These career accomplishments are more than milestones for me — they also serve as evidence to my daughters that through hard work and determination, it is possible to overcome any obstacles you encounter and achieve great things.”
But she can’t let engineering steal all her time, she said.
“One day all the toys will be gone, and I am pretty sure I will miss picking them up. I really wish time could stand still right now,” Liptak said. “I cherish every single moment I spend with my girls being little.”
The one chink in the armor of this 21st century mom may be in the kitchen.
She admits to getting lots of help from Tristan with breakfast and from Ava in the baking department.
Alaina said she likes mom’s meatloaf, “especially when she calls grandma for the recipe.”
Perhaps the most thankful on this Mother’s Day is dad Tristan.
“If I could have talked to God and picked two children from a shelf, it would have been them,” he said in also giving his spouse credit. “The other thing that I often tell the children is that they hit the mommy lottery with Nicole.”