2014 Engineering Leader Under 40: Heather Johnson

Division Manager; Interstates Control Systems Inc.; Sioux Center, Iowa


2014 Engineering Leader Under 40: Heather JohnsonHeather Johnson, 39
Division Manager
Interstates Control Systems Inc.
Sioux Center, Iowa

Education: BS Computer Science, Creighton University

Heather Johnson has advanced through many positions at Interstates, including systems analyst, lead control systems developer, and project manager. Today, she is division manager leading a seven-member team. Heather’s situation is unique: her entire Interstates career involves supporting a single client, though company ownership has changed over the years. As the client’s plant personnel changed, her historical knowledge and experience with their systems allowed her to provide continuity. Starting out, Heather’s projects were large and she worked on major portions of code as part of a team. Her role transitioned to smaller projects which she priced, planned, and executed on her own. As the projects she was securing grew larger, Heather needed additional programmers to help her execute them. While at times she misses being in the depths of programming, she has learned to let go of the details to develop and guide others to succeed in their careers.

In Heather’s opinion, keeping a balance between work and family is an important skill to have and to model for children. As a mother of four children ranging in age from 5 to 14, she finds herself working through K’Nex projects with them.

Why choose this career path?
“If a young person is interested in programming and computers, he or she should try some classes to test it out.” Heather always thought she would be involved in a health-related field, but found that her passion is programming and computer science. “If programming is of interest, stick with it because things are always changing and there are always new challenges every day,” said Johnson.

Visit the Engineering Leaders Under 40 page.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
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Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
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Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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