Agnieszka Zupancic, Product Manager, Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc.
Masters, Mechanical Engineering, Automation and Robotics University: AGH University of Science and Technology (Krakow, Poland)
What first drew you to engineering? When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?
My fascination with science and engineering came early in high school while taking advanced mathematics and physics classes. I would say it was very early on that I knew what I was going to choose as a career. After high school, I got into a 5-year master’s program at the AGH University of Science and Industry in Krakow, Poland, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Automation and Robotics. The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics is one of the largest and best faculties in mechatronics in Poland, and the entire world, offering a modern education process while enriching it with studies in mechatronics, automation, and robotics, computer science, biomedical engineering, and eco-energy.
Were there any influential engineers (women or men) who helped shape your decision to become an engineer? If so, who and why?
I came from a family of engineers and followed the path of my grandfather, mother, and uncle into engineering. Being able to watch their career growth, professional achievements as engineers made it an easy decision for me to follow in their footsteps. My husband and younger brother are also engineers. I think this is an extremely rewarding profession, allowing you to see the results of your hard work right in front of you. Designing and programming is a representation of your creativity. I get satisfaction from making things work.
What barriers do women face in today’s engineering world, if any?
There is always a factor of the ratio number of men vs. women when you step into an engineering school or a company. At my college faculty, there were only 2 women (including myself) and around 70 men. This can be pretty intimidating at the beginning. You just need to cross this mental barrier and focus on yourself and have tons of confidence. I must say however, I was always treated with respect during my college and professional years, but this comes with having to be able to prove yourself first.
Give us an example of your involvement in a design project, a product launch, the development of a new technology, or the adoption of a new technology or process. How did you better your team, if applicable?
I was lucky and my first few years after college I spent doing exactly what I was thought at school – designing and programming machines for large end-users in the packaging industry. I gained a lot of hands-on experience. There is pressure and short delivery schedules that you have to accommodate.
At Mitsubishi Electric I hold a product manager position and am responsible for Modular Controllers, Networks, and Distributed I/O, Industrial Computers, Energy, SCADA, IoT & Cloud solutions. All of these products have a goal to create a seamlessly working system designed and programmed to deliver a quality solution to the customer’s door. I was part of several large projects at Mitsubishi Electric including implementing a new product shipping line communicating directly with our MES system and third-party shipping carriers. I designed and programmed several important demos/machines for international tradeshows to promote our PLC solutions, but one of my biggest involvements is to promote our line of PLC controllers, keeping up with the latest technology and introducing it to the United States market. We constantly are improving our offering from a technology standpoint to be the best in class. Just recently, I was a part of a team effort to release products supporting the new time-sensitive network, CC-Link IE TSN, to the American market. These days it’s all about fast data processing, so we must provide solutions to support these demands.
Describe your biggest engineering challenge. How did you conquer it or resolve it, or what was the outcome?
The biggest challenge in engineering for me is the final touch with the design, program, project, product launch. When launch time comes, whatever you have worked on for so long needs to bring the expected results and return on investment. Whether it is a demo, machine, program, or a new product launch, things have to work, come along together, and be executed with 100% effort. This really determines the success of your project. In engineering, it is also sometimes difficult to work as a team. Everyone has different ideas so you have to stay open and listen to what everyone wants to bring to the table.
Filed Under: Women in Engineering