Assistant professor of engineering, Danielle Nobles-Lookingbill, breaks down gender stereotypes while she helps build the kingdom of God — figuratively and literally.
Nobles-Lookingbill was hired as the assistant engineering professor three years ago. Her passion for her students, diligence in academia and perseverance are what led her to be the first woman in the engineering department to be tenure-tracked at Taylor University.
In all of Nobles-Lookingbill’s classes, such as statics, engineering ethics or thermodynamics, she makes it a priority to connect with her students and honor God with her work.
“Part of my calling is to just encourage people,” Nobles-Lookingbill said. “Both our ladies and our gentlemen, but I think I have a special place in my heart for our ladies.”
While there is no Bible verse that specifically mentions engineering by name, Nobles-Lookingbill finds a way to incorporate Scripture into her lessons such as the parable about building the foundation for a home or the story of Noah’s Ark.
One of the ways Nobles-Lookingbill encourages her students is by being a co-adviser for the Taylor Women Engaging in Engineering and Technology (TWEET) club where she makes sure the women involved have everything they need to succeed in their majors.
Having put in the hard work herself already, she knows how important it is for women to support each other in male-dominated majors and careers.
Growing up, Nobles-Lookingbill didn’t always feel included in jobs or hobbies that the men in her family were a part of, which makes informing women of their options even more important to her.
Nobles-Lookingbill’s grandfather enjoyed woodworking and his handiwork can be seen proudly displayed above her desk. Her father was an electrician and also worked on projects around the house. Nobles-Lookingbill wishes she would have learned more from them.
“I think back then, men just kind of figured women weren’t interested,” Nobles-Lookingbill said. “I didn’t think to ask.”
Engineering was not a career path Nobles-Lookingbill had even heard of until she was an adult. In fact, her first degree was in psychology and criminal justice at Indiana University.
Once she had graduated, Nobles-Lookingbill decided that was not the right field for her after working as a juvenile probation officer. Her love of math led her to work in construction and eventually start an interior structure remodeling business with a partner.
Construction is another male-dominated career, and she experienced some prejudice while on job sites.
“When I was within my first couple years in the construction industry, I was using a pneumatic pin gun to attach trim to cabinetry,” Nobles-Lookingbill said. “The general contractor walked in, looked twice at me and then said, ‘They let you use the pin gun?’ I tipped my head and replied, ‘Yes. They let me.’ This was the same man who did not think it was necessary to have a portable restroom on site, even though it is a legal obligation. I realized at that moment that there exist people who really have not ever considered that a woman would be working on a jobsite.”
However, Nobles-Lookingbill did not let comments like this stop her from furthering her career. Her experience in construction inspired her to take her creativity and problem-solving skills one step further and pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Eventually, she graduated with a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Nevada in 2018.
More than anything, Nobles-Lookingbill wants people to know that everyone has their own path and that there are options we might not even know about yet. She believes it just takes endurance and dedication.
“I grew up in section 8 apartments and I’m a first-generation college student,” Nobles-Lookingbill said. “(My mom) remembers me saying, ‘I’m going to go to college,’ and she said, ‘I don’t know how you’re going to do that.’ I apparently said to her, ‘Well, I’m just going to do it!’”
Nobles-Lookingbill is an inspiring example of someone who has achieved so much through faith and persistence despite what others thought of her or the challenges that held her back.