Maribel Wilson, chief technology officer for advanced materials at Honeywell, is trying to turn back the clock on greenhouse gas emissions. Wilson was a part of the team that launched the Solstice platform, a program that cost almost $1 billion in research to create a safer alternative to aerosols.
The team developed hydrofluoroolefins, a refrigerant that does not trap heat in the atmosphere. If hydrofluoroolefins are adopted in car air conditioners worldwide, the effect would be equivalent to removing 33 million vehicles from the road.
Consumers can already buy cars that feature a Honeywell-produced refrigerant that is less harmful to the environment. And Wilson said Solstice N41 will soon be available. N41 received HVAC industry approval as the first, non-flammable, reduced global warming refrigerant replacement for the previous standard in stationary air conditioning systems.
Wilson leads Honeywell employees who develop new products. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company produces commercial and consumer products, engineering services and aerospace systems. Wilson works in Morris Plains on a team helping to reduce global warming.
The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Wilson promotes STEM education for boys and girls, encouraging them to enter the engineering field and follow in her footsteps.
“I have a first-hand experience of both my parents wanting to find and create a better life for themselves – actually their mothers did,” Wilson said. “I think their move instilled a work ethic in them and a value for education. I think those things have been a big influence in my life. I continue to pass that on to my girls.”
She serves on the New Jersey Research and Development Council – which recognizes local inventors and innovation – giving her a platform to help students. And she continues to meet with other adults who want to host a New Jersey Science Day but their organizations lost funding. As a result, Wilson is part of a group at Honeywell Hometown Solutions who is partnering with the Science Teachers Association to reinstate the New Jersey Science Day.
Wilson also founded a women in technology employee group that will do outreach to make young women aware of how to develop patents, setting the stage for them to become entrepreneurs. In this way this group is adding value to the economy. Just 12 percent of inventors are women.
“My mother told me there is nothing that is off-limits for you,” Wilson said. “There are no limitations for you. Anything that I have tried to accomplish, I have asked for it and pursued it.”
She arrived at Honeywell as a plant engineer, and later took on business roles. Wilson, whose father was an engineer, graduated from Vanderbilt University and Cornell University’s Johnson Business School.
“When I selected engineering, math and science came naturally to me,” Wilson said. “My career has been very fulfilling and from the standpoint of engineering is very versatile. … You can select engineering and it gives you a lot of leeway to meander.”
Young people should embrace technology as the path to occupational success, Wilson said. Students need “to have that ability to do integrative thinking to solve problems.”