We’ve been reflecting on last month’s activities around National Engineering Month (which comes up every year in March). It’s Canada’s celebration of engineering excellence, designed to highlight how rewarding a career in engineering can be.
One of the goals is to showcase the many disciplines within engineering and design. We’re doing that too, by profiling some of the women we work with across Canada – women whose interests and skills have propelled them into gratifying careers.
Our aim with this series of posts is to show young women the diversity of work available to them when they pursue engineering and design in their studies, while highlighting some of the excellent work being done by Javelin customers.
Engineers Canada says the month’s activities demonstrate “that anything’s possible when it comes to engineering.” The women we hear from in this post agree.
From furniture to food processing equipment
“We all have the chance to experiment and innovate, regardless of gender. I am very proud that I have the skills and the chance to do that.”
– Florica Tudora
Florica Tudora is a mechanical designer, Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert and Certified DriveWorks Professional. She works for Fortress Technology, which manufactures industrial metal detection systems and conveyors for companies working in food processing, consumer goods, textiles, and lumber. Her role is
to design the master models for new conveyor systems and to develop automation projects. Her certification in DriveWorks makes her the in-house expert and trainer for her colleagues.
In previous positions, Florica used her 3D design skills to design modular furniture, as well as food and pharmaceutical processing equipment such as mixers, blenders, and coating and drying machines. At Fortress, Florica says she enjoys combining design, using SOLIDWORKS, and automation, using DriveWorks.
“I moved from automotive industry design, to furniture, to processing equipment, and now conveyor and metal detector systems. I like the new challenges. Each innovative design has been exciting for me because most have been new designs in the industry.”
Florica has some advice for girls and young women interested in technology and engineering or coming up behind her in those fields.
“Do not get intimidated. If you are looking for challenges and barriers to break, be daring and go for it. You will enjoy the ride.”
She says we have to encourage girls to embrace science and technology at an early age by creating fun projects, letting them play around in the toolbox, and enrolling them in programs such as Girl Guides – all with the goal of expanding their learning and building their confidence.
When you love your work, you keep going
“My first boss told me, ‘never tell the customer it can’t be done.’ Thinking about this many years later, I could never have imagined being able to 3D print parts inside other parts, something we can do today. More than anything, I love problem solving, designing something that didn’t seem possible. I look at how to make that thing fit into that space, think about it, have my a-ha moment, and make it work.”
Ottawa-based SD Avionics designs and manufactures airplane cabin communications systems, supporting the ongoing demand for better connectivity in the sky. Wendy Klein is the company’s only mechanical engineer. She began part time and has been working full time for about a year.
Wendy looks after new product design and testing, such as vibration analysis. As chief problem-solver, she figures out why something doesn’t fit, or doesn’t work anymore, and how to make it work.
Back in 2006, Wendy was searching for more information about SOLIDWORKS and came upon a Javelin Technologies training course.
“The training was terrific, and I met a lot of interesting people. I have attended a few other Javelin courses over the years.”
Wendy has always juggled education, career, and family, even delivering her Master’s thesis while 40 weeks pregnant. She has designed and tested products for telecommunications, aviation, and military defence applications, and has delved into everything from creating housings for electronics to 3D printing tools to assist in production. She works on all stages of the design, from concept, to detailed design, to careful analysis, to production support. To simulate aircraft takeoff in icy conditions, Wendy designed a full-scale stabilizer for wind tunnel icing tests with a rotating, moveable elevator.
She says it hasn’t always been easy, being a female mechanical engineer.
“There were those who said women couldn’t do the job. You’d make suggestions that would be ignored or you’d be told your assembly wouldn’t work. The world has changed for the better, but you still need perseverance. When you love your work, you keep going.”
Wendy was good at math and physics in school, but says not every practising engineer excelled at high school math.
“I hope people try courses to see what they’re good at and what they like to do. When I went into mechanical engineering, I was interested in power generation, but I had to take a course in machine design. I thought it sounded horrible because I was thinking only of dirty machines. It turned out to be my favourite course and is a big part of where I am today.”
A surprise career designing for high performance computers
“As an engineer, I can be involved in or work on anything. As a student, I worked at places like St. Michael’s Hospital and UPS. Now, at AMD, I am involved in developing cutting edge graphics products, the same products that I need to use SOLIDWORKS. I never thought as a mechanical engineer I would end up at a computer company or have the potential to work in any sector out there.”
-Tamara Low Foon
Tamara Low Foon is Senior Thermal Mechanical Product Engineer at Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. At her site in Markham, Ontario, they design and manufacture graphics cards for the kind of
desktop computer systems used by SOLIDWORKS designers and others who need top quality renderings on screen.
The processing unit in high performing desktop computers gets very hot. The heat sink, which dissipates the heat, is Tamara’s current specialty. She admits it doesn’t sound like typical work for a mechanical engineer.
“I first came to AMD on a co-op term and I found it the most exciting placement. It’s not a traditional career path, but it’s fast-paced, with new technology to explore and work with. The design cycle is so quick. If challenges come up, we have to address them immediately.”
Tamara also gets to see her products in retail and online stores and likes the instant feedback.
“If I worked in automotive, I might design a small gear for a car and never see it again. Here I can read reviews for my products online. I’m always trying to meet and exceed expectations.”
It’s why she has become interested in SOLIDWORKS Visualize.
The heat sink is easily seen by the end consumer,” Tamara says. “There’s a cosmetic element to the design. I want to be able to quickly see how different prototypes will look in real life.”
Tamara says not many women have traditionally chosen the computer industry, but her CEO is a female engineer and there is a second woman on the executive team. AMD also has a mentoring program for female students.
“The students already have the positive attitude that they can do anything. Mostly they are looking for some advice about how to get from A to B in their careers. We get questions about soft skills far more than about technical skills. My advice to them is don’t limit yourself. If you think you want to try something, go for it.”
Javelin would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors for supporting us in this campaign, as well as acknowledge Paige Leedale for her help with coordinating these amazing stories.