CS Alumnae Moore-McKee Honored for Leadership, Donates Prize to Support CS Scholarships

1/11/2018 David Mercer, CS @ ILLINOIS

Amy Moore-McKee won the Society of Automotive Engineers' Sid Olsen Engineering Executive of the Year Award in 2017.

Written by David Mercer, CS @ ILLINOIS

When Amy Moore-McKee graduated with a BS in Computer Science from Illinois in 1982, she was impressed that she already had a handful of solid job offers in hand.

“I never had any problem getting interviews,” she said.

She took one of those offers, setting her off on a path that now finds her leading more than 300 design engineers as Director of Engineering for Caterpillar Inc.’s Global Mining Design Center.

Amy Moore-McKee (BS CS '82)
Amy Moore-McKee (BS CS '82)
This year she was awarded the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Sid Olsen Engineering Executive of the Year Award. That honor came with a $1,000 scholarship, and Moore-McKee chose to donate the money to the Computer Science Visionary Scholarship Fund, part of the Engineering Visionary Scholarship Initiative, leveraging matching funds from the Grainger Foundation to increase CS scholarship support.

Moore-McKee’s daughter is a 21-year-old senior studying finance and international business at Illinois, while her son is a Political Science graduate. Those ties and the role her CS @ ILLINOIS degree played in her success led her to want to give back to the department.

“It got me my start. I was grateful for the degree and the amount of credibility that came with it,” she said.

After developing software for both Verizon and Motorola while living in Arizona, the Naperville native returned home to Illinois, where she joined Caterpillar.

She’s now been there more than 29 years, all in the Peoria area. But her job has taken her around the world.

“I’ve been to the far-eastern gold mines of Russia, about 400 kilometers from the Arctic Circle. I’ve been to many different areas of China and Australia, South America,” she said. “And I’ve been all through Europe, too.”

Moore-McKee’s CS training has been a key piece of her career at the heavy equipment-manufacturing giant. She started in what was then Caterpillar’s new electronics group and moved up.

In the Global Mining Design Center, her team has long worked on technology familiar at CS @ ILLINOIS. That includes autonomous vehicles - in this case, mining trucks that weigh hundreds of tons. (For video of the mammoth trucks, see here).

CS Alumnae Amy Moore-McKee accepts the Society of Automotive Engineers' Sid Olsen Engineering Executive of the Year Award.
CS Alumnae Amy Moore-McKee accepts the Society of Automotive Engineers' Sid Olsen Engineering Executive of the Year Award.
“They’re in full operation in Australia,” she said. “We also have semi-autonomous tractors, and with this technology, multiple machines can be controlled from a single operator station.”

Moore-McKee’s team is also busy now with demand from a mining industry that’s coming out of a slump and looking for new equipment with features that are often heavily based on CS.

“There’s a huge demand now for new features that are highly technical. Caterpillar has been working for a long time on more efficient machines, autonomous machines, machines that can do self-learning,” she said. “We have a lot on our plates.”

The recent award required a nomination from those she’s worked with, which made receiving it all the more special, Moore-McKee said. And it provided proof that her efforts to mentor and lead have had an impact.

“That’s’ the best part about it, honestly – the peer recognition,” she said.

Being able to share the financial piece of the award was an important bonus.

“I think it’s important to give back to our communities.”

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This story was published January 11, 2018.