Rising Technical Contributor Award

Danielle Chen


For subject matter expertise and technical research that drives future innovation; for cross-organizational transfer of knowledge; and for tirelessly advocating for diversity in STEM fields.

Danielle Chen is a research and development (R&D) senior engineer at PepsiCo under the Foods Applied AI team. She joined the company as an associate R&D engineer in 2019, working on research and innovation projects for its Quaker Oats division. She was the extrusion process engineer lead for multiple Quaker ready-to-eat innovation projects, and eight products were successfully launched to market. Chen implemented creative, low-cost engineering solutions to solve scale-up issues and researched digital solutions to shorten development time.

She was also the process lead on a new snacking extruded platform research project that used existing internal technology to deliver healthy products with novel texture experiences to the consumer. The result led to new uses for an old technology that could enable transformative future innovation. Chen received an internal Process Function Power Up Award for her research, and her work was showcased at PepsiCo’s internal Global Research Forum series.

Internal organizational changes required Chen to take on subject matter expert responsibility for coaching peers and senior associates on technical extrusion and business knowledge. She received many internal awards for her knowledge transfer contributions, which allowed multiple associates to onboard quickly, keeping projects on track and ensuring efficient asset relocation.

In her current role on the Foods Applied AI team, Chen leads the evaluation of AI flavor-pairing tools for broader application to R&D, marketing, and insights. She is the main point of contact in driving partnership projects as well as conducting a technical evaluation study.

Chen’s enthusiasm for data analytics and machine learning led her to complete an IBM professional certification in machine learning. She implemented her knowledge from this course to a product insights project, demonstrating future growth insights through evaluating and coding five machine-learning time-series algorithms. This foundational work has helped the team optimize future releases of the tool. In addition to these projects, Chen is currently the growth plank lead for the data user community in PepsiCo. In this role, she supports R&D associates in upgrading their digital skills.

Chen has been a Society of Women Engineers member since joining PepsiCo. She was previously the communications co-lead and helped plan SWE-related activities. With her graphic design skills, she has helped her PepsiCo SWE chapter create multiple digital designs — from flyers and Zoom backgrounds to SWE conference ads. She was also the digital communications lead for the Women Inclusion Network employee resource group and is an active member of PepsiCo’s Asian Network. Additionally, Chen has participated in R&D recruiting for several years, partnering with the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, SWE, and other diverse student organizations to promote the importance of diverse hiring at PepsiCo.

Chen earned a B.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is pursuing a master’s in analytics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Chen enjoys spending time with her husband and her beagle, Simba. She also likes playing board games with friends, teaching children soccer, and painting during her free time.