Nancy P. Crews ’70 was a psychology major who discovered chemistry through a core curriculum introductory class at UF. Spurred by a thirst for knowledge, she appreciated the combination of science and mathematics in the field. She began shaping her expertise in analytical chemistry under the guidance of Professor Jim Winefordner (who also mentored Gene Inman PHD’82 and Marilyn Black M’71). “He always made his classes very interesting and fun,” she remembers. “He challenged you while giving you reasons for how things worked.” She graduated in 1970 with her bachelor’s in chemistry and went on to earn a PhD at Virginia Tech in 1975.
She used her chemistry know-how with Eastman Kodak, working in both marketing and R&D for their reprographics products. “I was working in the [corporate] research lab, then transitioned to the business side, which afforded me the ability to learn and explore new opportunities,” she says. Her inquisitiveness coupled with her STEM education and marketing experience served her well. “Because I liked to learn new things and had both business and technical education, I was able to get a business off the ground,” she says. That business is Custom Manufacturing and Engineering, which produces test equipment and power products. Previously, she worked for Lockheed Martin, which contracted with the U.S. Department of Energy in nuclear weapons research. As the project tapered off upon the end of the Cold War, Crews found herself in “the right place at the right time” to launch her own business.