words: Talia Pakkala, photos: Dan Archer Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q3_2023 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.
The growth of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers has continued to increase over the years, but a gap remains especially in the aftermarket. We’re pleased to learn about Integrated Engineering’s (IE) very own Montana Throne and her role with the growing Utah-based tuning firm. Going on her third year with IE, Montana’s core focus has been the development, upgrading and launch of their new mobile app. Focused on the end-user, their app allows customers to flash from home, manage their own file changes and even install updates. Down the line Montana has plans to launch new features such as data logging that will allow IE to continue to refine their software products and support customers with tech support. For Montana, her love of cars goes back to being a young girl rock crawling with her family. By the time she was 16, she was led into the land of BMWs and has enjoyed German cars ever since. It’s no wonder she ended up falling into an engineering career after growing an affinity for some of the most over-engineered vehicles on the road.
Struggling to settle on a major in college, she reflected on a high school aptitude test she had taken that suggested she would be strong in mechanical engineering. After a few classes, engineering was an obvious fit and she felt so comfortable immediately, eventually graduating with a degree in computer science and a minor in mathematics. In her senior year, she began applying for work, hoping to secure something before graduation. When nothing landed, she realized she needed to be more thoughtful in her search. What did she want to do for the rest of her life? In the end, automotive engineering was the answer. Serendipitously the posting for IE turned up just two weeks later and she knew this was the one. Since starting there, Montana has felt so included by her team and encouraged to learn and grow. Despite being the only woman in engineering at IE, she hasn’t felt labeled or put into a role by her peers. The quality of her work is how she is judged, not by who she is biologically.
Aside from her great team, it’s the challenge of the work that is the most rewarding part of her day. She enjoys being able to overcome new obstacles and learn how to improve upon existing systems. Her job requires her to work with scarce resources and to reverse engineer systems to understand how to manipulate them. Seeing that hard work come together in the shape of the mobile app for customers is the icing on the cake after she knows she ‘cracked the code!’ Growing up with a supportive family, her mother always encouraged her to strive for anything she wanted and not to let barriers keep her down. She told her it would be hard, but it was that realism coupled with encouragement that has kept Montana striving to push the boundaries of what is possible. In the end, she says, “I’m just trying to prove myself to me.”