Electric dreams

Originally from Kirkland, Washington in the US, Noelle Parlier has made quite the impact in Australia’s truck and trailer scene. When she’s not exploring the wilderness or on the ski slopes, she can be found tinkering with Kenworth and DAF equipment.

Noelle Parlier’s first experience with the commercial road transport industry came when she was in her final year at Seattle University studying electrical engineering and physics

“Part of the degree program was to partner with a business to work on a design problem with a team of students for the full year,” she says. “My team was assigned to work with Kenworth to develop a solution to reduce drag between the back of the sleeper or cab and the front of a trailer – all in the pursuit of improved fuel economy. The experience was amazing, we had a great mentor at Kenworth, Alec Wong, and my team received a US patent from our design solution.”

After graduation, Noelle moved to Montana to be a ski bum – this was the time where she met her husband, Chris. They moved back to the Pacific Northwest and that is when Noelle embarked on her PACCAR career at the PACCAR Technical Centre in the powertrain team.

“I earned my Commercial Driver’s License in 2010, allowing me to drive our product to better understand how our designs improve driveability and performance for drivers,” she says. “I moved to Kenworth Division in 2013, still in powertrain, but starting to gain responsibilities in other areas over time.”

Noelle moved to Australia in October 2018 – with Chris and their two boys, Oakley (10) and Finnley (6) – to become the Chief Engineer at PACCAR. This role entails engineering design and customer service responsibility for Kenworth and DAF products.

Over the years, Noelle has observed a lot of change, but she reckons the fundamentals of the industry are still the same.

“The industry is about moving freight reliably and efficiently from point A to point B while using the least amount of resources to do it – customers are in the business to make money,” she says. “Everything we do supports this fundamental goal. This is why I love working at PACCAR in Australia. My team of local engineers work tirelessly to support our customers with custom designed engineering solutions for Australian and New Zealand applications to maximize our product reliability and efficiency for our customers. Whether it’s moving a fuel tank forward 50mm to free up space for a custom body or designing a custom exhaust mounting system to give a customer an extra 100 mm of clearance, the end result is providing our customers with trucks that meet their needs, allows them to carry more payload, and employ drivers that love being in a Kenworth or DAF truck”.

Noelle recognises the need to recruit women into this industry – to provide different perspectives, knowledge ideas and skills. “All of these women are an inspiration to me – paving the way for future generations of females to give it a go in this industry,” she says. “I know for me, joining this industry 15 years ago was intimidating, especially when I was often the only female in the room. Fifteen years later, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love the product, the people and the challenge. It has been so rewarding for me, meeting inspirational people passionate about the product, travelling the world and building a career that I am proud of.”

Industry Icon
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers. Industry Icon is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of the commercial road transport industry.