Vice President, Chief Technical Officer, Cummins, Inc.
Jennifer Weerts Rumsey is no stranger to remarkable achievement at a relatively young age. In just 20 years since earning a mechanical engineering degree and graduating with highest honors from Purdue, she has blazed a fast track through several technical leadership positions at engine manufacturer Cummins. And in 2015, she was named its chief technical officer (CTO) — a female first for the company founded in 1919.
Early in her post-Purdue path, Rumsey earned a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through a National Science Foundation research fellowship before being named to the “Purdue 40 Under 40” list of rising alumni. She has stayed particularly focused on clean energy solutions that reduce environmental impacts while improving the performance of diesel engines.
Rumsey grew up in Columbus, Indiana, headquarters to Cummins, and followed in the footsteps of her engineer father. Each summer throughout her college years she worked a different internship at Cummins. The straight shot up Interstate 65 to Purdue for college was an obvious choice. “I think the biggest shock for me as a student was that I actually learned how to study,” Rumsey says. “The classes and the work didn’t come as easily as they did in high school, but I made that adjustment. I made some great friends here, and I found the professors to be really supportive.”
Before pursuing her master’s degree, Rumsey worked for Nuvera Fuel Cells, a research startup, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While there, she conducted research in partnership with the Department of Energy. Yet the call to return home grew loud, and she returned to Columbus and Cummins in 2000.
“I love solving tough technical problems, especially complex problems, which is one of the reasons I did system controls early in my career,” Rumsey says. “But I also really enjoy understanding the customer and addressing business needs to solve those technical problems.”
In her current role as CTO, Rumsey sometimes combines three large tasks in one day as she examines business needs, works with customers, and (perhaps her favorite), she says, “where I have time to spend with our technical team, really diving into some of the innovations we’re working on and the problems we’re trying to solve.”
Once involved as a student in the Purdue Society of Women Engineers, Rumsey is now a spokesperson for the field. “I would encourage everyone — certainly women — to look beyond the stereotypical things you think engineers might do,” she says. “There are a variety of opportunities that can have a positive impact. That’s the thing I find so motivating about my job. I’m working on technologies that help the environment, and I’m impacting people’s lives.”
As she continues to impact lives through her industrial role, Rumsey remains equally committed to professional societies and to the community at large. From lending her expertise to robotics competitions for middle-school students to her involvement with various Purdue programs, she is showing others the endless possibilities that engineering offers.