Full Exposure

As she starts her career, TMMWV’s Shamaya Morris is embracing it all — both on the assembly line and in the community

June 11, 2019
Full Circle -- Shamaya Morris (far right) shares a fun moment with girls attending a STEM camp sponsored by West Virginia Tech University in Beckley, her hometown. "I get to talk with girls from my area who have no idea they could be engineers."

Since coming on board full-time at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia (TMMWV), in 2016, Shamaya Morris has yet to meet an opportunity she didn’t like.
 
“To be honest, I’m not aiming for a specific title,” says the production engineering specialist. “I just want to do as many different things as I can. I want exposure to it all, if I can.”
 
So, when she recounts the many projects she’s worked on and the community outreach efforts she’s volunteered for, it’s easy to forget that she’s still just getting started in her career. And it’s inspiring to dream about where all of that talent and drive could one day take her.
 
In April, it earned her a trip to Washington, D.C., to be honored as an “emerging leader” at the Manufacturing Institute’s annual STEP Ahead awards. Also representing Toyota at that gala event were TMMK’s Renee Robertson and the family of Bodine’s Marie Kendrick who was recognized posthumously.
 
House Call --  STEM campers gather for a group photo in front of one of the participant's homes in Beckley, West Virginia, where Morris (front left) grew up. The camp organizers provide transportation to and from the event.

‘Hit the Ground Running’
 
Morris’ Toyota journey started in 2014 when she was selected to work at TMMWV as a co-op student as part of her graduate degree in industrial engineering at West Virginia University.
 
“The school has a career fair every year, and Toyota was one of the manufacturing companies that was there,” she says. “Given Toyota’s reputation, and the way my studies aligned with the Toyota Production System, I knew that’s where I wanted to go. I was very excited when I learned they had openings.”
 
Based on that experience, Morris had the promise of a job offer after she earned her master’s degree in August 2016. The timing proved to be fortuitous, as that was also when the plant was just starting to develop the manufacturing plan for an all-new high torque version of Toyota’s 8-speed Direct Automatic Transmission.
 
“I got to hit the ground running,” says Morris. “I was on the team that came up with the manufacturing layout, then continued straight to the machine specs and design. I made five trips to Japan in that first year and was exposed to so many new things. Now my job is to provide line support for the team members who are actually building the transmission. So, I’ve had the opportunity to come full circle, which is very unusual for someone who is so new to all of this.”
 
Proud Moment -- Morris (far right) joins fellow STEP Ahead award-winner Renee Robertson (front left) and the parents of Marie Kendrick at the Manufacturing Institute's gala ceremony in Washington, D.C., in April.

A Voracious Volunteer
 
Though fully immersed in her work, Morris also finds time to participate in four different Toyota Business Partnering Groups: the African American Collaborative, Young Professionals, Women Influencing and Impacting Toyota and Toyota Christian Fellowship.
 
Her AAC connection is especially meaningful. Among other projects, the TMMWV chapter provides support to a STEM camp for high school girls that’s hosted by West Virginia Tech University in Beckley, Morris’ hometown.
 
“I get to talk with girls from my area who, often, have no idea they could be an engineer,” she says. “It’s especially gratifying to be able to open their eyes to the possibilities right at the time they’re making college and career decisions. It’s one of my favorite things to do.”
 
Similarly, Morris lends a hand to the plant’s “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.” And she represents Toyota at college career fairs and other recruiting activities.
 
Through it all, she keeps learning and growing.
 
“My mind is kind of blown how much more I know today than I did when I started, and how much more I’ve yet to learn,” Morris says. “For my next project, I know what I’d do differently, what questions to ask, and who to seek out for advice. I want to do as much as I can. I’ll stay just as long as Toyota wants to keep me.”
 
By Dan Miller

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