ATI Industrial Automation
bachelor’s degree from Duke University in Biomedical Engineering
Although I work in the industrial robotics field now, I received my bachelor’s degree from Duke University in Biomedical Engineering. Biomedical and Automation sound unrelated, but the medical device and signal processing curriculum actually prepared me quite well for work in any industry. I got to cover electrical, mechanical, and software engineering. I’m also passionate about global health, and out of college, I worked with a non-profit, Engineering World Health, where I had the opportunity to repair medical equipment in developing countries. I’ve been in the industrial automation industry since 2017 and at ATI Industrial Automation since 2018. As a Robotic Applications Engineer at ATI, I define new ways to use our products with various robots, and I help our customers integrate our products into their applications.
Talk about the culture of your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women in engineering and automation?
What I like about ATI is that nobody treats me any differently. I’m an Applications Engineer, not a Female Applications Engineer. It doesn’t matter to anyone, and it shouldn’t. I also appreciate that ATI has several women and people of color in leadership positions across the company. A person’s merit and contribution to the team are what matters here.
What is your favorite part about working in this role and at ATI?
My favorite part of my job is helping someone else and seeing the understanding and interest on their face. Sometimes I have to toil over very tedious troubleshooting in order to get something to work. But once I’ve put in that effort, I can document and share it with others, making their job easier! At ATI I am also surrounded by other talented people who share their knowledge with me. I work a lot with our software and electronics development teams. I learn so much from them and appreciate their willingness to “teach a (wo)man to fish.” This allows me, in turn, to condense this into something that can provide added value to our internal teams and customers.
What first drew you to engineering and this industry?
Engineering was an obvious choice for me. I really enjoy diving deep into the technical details and analyzing every aspect of any project. Even if you don’t need to do that every day, an engineering background strengthens those skills for when you need them. Automation is an interesting field because you get to link your virtual work (programming and logic) to a tangible outcome (robots and other components moving). Although this can complicate troubleshooting (is it a bug in the code, or a mechanical issue?), it is also very satisfying.
Describe your biggest career challenge. How did you solve it — or what was the outcome or lesson learned?
Probably just the first step — deciding which career or field to pursue! As an engineer, you have a lot of opportunities. You may also tend to overanalyze. I found myself in the field of industrial automation after seizing a paid training opportunity abroad. One thing led to another and now I’m ATI’s expert on the integration of robotic force torque control. The best thing I ever did in my career was focus on company culture and opportunities for continuous learning. I’ve learned that that matters to me a lot more than the industry or exactly what the job description is.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t overthink it! There are so many industries and roles that you don’t even know about, and you can enjoy and excel in any of them.