Tech Insights

Exclusive: Wolfspeed’s Lauren Kegley on Next-Gen EVs, Women in EE

March 22, 2024 by Karen Hanson

Electrical engineer Lauren Kegley helps design the next generation of electric vehicles and hopes to inspire other women to advance their careers in engineering. 

When Lauren Kegley studied engineering at the University of Arkansas, she was too busy to notice she was the only woman in her class. As a track team pole vaulter and an honors student, her days were full.

“If I was not in the lab, I was probably on the track,” Kegley told EEPower. 

Now, as marketing manager of Wolfspeed’s Automotive Discrete portfolio, she advises engineers and electric vehicle (EV) makers on how to make their systems and processes more efficient with silicon carbide semiconductors. 

“Silicon carbide is a semiconductor focused on high-efficiency systems,” she explained. “So if it’s something that runs 24/7, 365, or close to that, and efficiency is critical, that’s really where we play,” Kegley said.


Lauren Kegley at APEC 2024 

Lauren Kegley at APEC 2024 


Kegley is still frequently one of the few women in the room, but she doesn’t let it stop her.

“I realized that I would continue to stick out more and that I would have to learn to claim my voice in different ways,” Kegley said.


The Path to Engineering: Solving Problems

Kegley’s passion for solving problems led her to engineering. 

“I like to make processes more efficient,” she explained. “I like to figure out the best way to do things.” 

When she was just beginning college, her father’s friend recommended she major in engineering because of the flexibility. He told her, “You can be anything after you become an engineer.”


Lauren Kegley

Lauren Kegley


At Wolfspeed, Kegley works remotely with a team in Arkansas but consults with people worldwide. Every day is different. Some days, she may be onsite with a customer, trying to figure out what technology will suit their needs, while other days, she’s answering emails, exploring the next generation of EVs, or wondering about the future of autonomous vehicles.

Kegley is passionate about her specialty: silicon carbide semiconductors for high-voltage power electronics such as electric vehicles. 

“When you think about the EV marketplace, what prevents every person from going out and ordering a new electric vehicle is a lot of people are concerned about range anxiety,” she said. “That’s where we, as a high-efficiency conductor company, can help reduce that [with] a traditional piece of power electronics.”

In an EV, everything from the powertrain to the HVAC system can drain the battery quickly. She believes silicon carbide can be the answer.

“Silicon carbide is what makes your car go really fast,” she explained. “For example, the Lucid sedans—which are probably one of the highest luxury sedans on the marketplace today—in the powertrain is Wolfspeed silicon carbide. It’s what makes it feel like a race car.”

Silicon carbide is also used in onboard and off-board charging devices, she added.


Adding Her Voice To the Engineering Community

Early in her career, Kegley realized she needed to develop her own leadership style. At first, she tried to replicate other people’s styles.

“That didn’t really work so well for me,” Kegley said. “They were like, here’s the young blonde girl in here thinking that she can take over this conversation. So I realized that I needed to find a community who could help me understand what was normal, what could change, and what I was experiencing.”


Kegley speaking at APEC 2024 

Kegley speaking at APEC 2024 


Kegley decided she needed a network of women, and she wanted to open doors for others. “I wanted to create opportunities to hold space for people to grow, regardless of their gender identity, but also just because I felt like there wasn’t always that space readily available for people,” she said.

She started working with IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS), which has a committee for women in engineering. At one technical conference, she met Stephanie Butler, who worked for Texas Instruments at the time. 

“She was the first female I met in my industry,” she said. Butler invited her to major conferences where she met more women engineers.

Now, Kegley is actively involved in diversity initiatives and women in engineering groups. She co-chairs the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee with IEEE PELS Women in Engineering. 


Engineering as a Springboard

Most people envision engineers working in a lab creating or testing things, but there are also opportunities for engineers who are good writers and communicators. “If you’re someone who wants to make an impact, and you like the idea of problem-solving, there’s a seemingly infinite number of problems to solve,” she observed.

Kegley went on to get master’s and doctorate degrees in engineering with support from Wolfspeed. 

She encourages aspiring engineers to pursue their dreams.

“I don’t want to let anyone say that the engineering route is an easy one because getting your initial degree is not easy, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it,” Kegley said. 

She echoed the wise words she received as a young woman: “Go get an engineering degree, and then figure out what you want to do from there. It really feels like an excellent springboard for people if they’re considering STEM [fields].”

All images used courtesy of Lauren Kegley