Demand is growing for high-level,
multidiscipline manufacturing engineers
“Plenty of viable and well-paying careers exist in manufacturing.” – Bart Aslin, Society of Manufacturing Engineers
These engineers have degrees like physics, ChE and ME, but they’re all deeply involved in manufacturing-related jobs
By Dan Margherita
'There are very few ‘manufacturing engineers’ left, but many engineers are involved in manufacturing,” says Bart Aslin, executive director of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME, Dearborn, MI).
While it’s true that many lower-level jobs in manufacturing have been outsourced, the demand for high-level manufacturing engineers is actually growing, Aslin declares. “We are still the leader in high-end manufacturing and we need the technical workforce to match its demands.”
“We have to reverse the image of manufacturing in this country,” Aslin says. “Plenty of viable and well-paying careers exist. There just aren’t enough qualified people to take advantage of them.”
Project Lead the Way
As recently as twenty-five years ago, SME focused almost entirely on supporting college students. Ten years ago it became clear that, despite its efforts, fewer and fewer students were going into the manufacturing specialty. After 9/11 the number dropped still further, since fewer students from foreign countries were permitted into the U.S.
So SME decided to focus on catching the interest of middle and high school students, especially women and minorities.
The society partnered with Project Lead The Way (PLTW, Clifton Park, NY). PLTW is a national nonprofit organization that sponsors rigorous and innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for middle and high schools.
In 2009 SME awarded $750,000 in scholarships to students entering college, many of them favorably influenced to try technology careers by offerings from PLTW.
GE opens its new manufacturing/software tech center
Last year General Electric (GE, Fairfield, CT) opened the doors of its new advanced manufacturing and software technology center, a state-of-the-art IT and R&D facility in Van Buren Township, MI.
The center will expand to some 1,200 GE employees over the next few years. It will house a large concentration of GE IT professionals, and will also include an R&D facility, a component
of GE’s global research network. There will be scientists and engineers developing next-generation manufacturing technologies for GE high-tech products in renewable energy, aircraft engines, gas turbines and more.
The work will include development of composites, plus machining, inspection, casting and coating technologies for GE’s aviation and energy businesses.
“I’d say 85 percent of the people working here will be software and engineering technologists,” says Vic Bhagat, CIO for GE corporate information services and site leader for the center. “We’re looking for people with a proven track record of being strong technologists. This includes mid-career people with seven to twenty-plus years of experience.
“Another 10 percent will be high-end engineers who can reduce cycle times across our product lines. The remaining 5 percent will be financial people who can close the books for us.”
Vic Bhagat: delivering at GE
“GE has given me the opportunity to be a well-rounded individual, but I have to deliver,” says tech center site leader Vic Bhagat. He’s been with GE for seventeen years, joining the organization from a consulting firm working for GE.
He served as CIO for GE in India and Southeast Asia from 2002 to 2005, responsible for driving the company’s regional strategy in sourcing and IT
and its global development centers.
Bhagat was born in India and received his BS in physics and math at St. John’s University (Mumbai, India). He came to the U.S. in 1983 to earn his BS in information management
and marketing at the University of Louisville (Louisville, KY).
Bhagat is a member of GE’s Asian Pacific American Forum, one of a number of company diversity groups. “GE doesn’t have to make an extra effort to be diverse,” Bhagat explains
with a smile. “It just comes naturally.”
The group of more than twenty people who report to Bhagat are “very strongly diverse,” he notes. “I always say my success comes from surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me, listening to them and learning from their expertise.”
Zack Bell leads Dow Chemical to “best in class” technologies
After the Dow Chemical Co (Midland, MI) acquired Rohm & Haas in April 2009, Dow’s press release said the deal combined “the two organizations’ best-in-class technologies, broad geographic reach and strong industry channels.” The deal created a specialty chemicals powerhouse, and Zack Bell, global integration leader, is smoothing the path for the combination of the two manufacturing giants.
“We’re combining two centuries of science and technology,” Bell explains. “My challenge is to combine Dow’s strengths in global scale with Rohm and Haas’ customer focus.”
Based in Texas City, TX, Bell spends about seventy-five percent of his time on the road. He travels to Asia, Europe and Latin America. “I work with operations technicians, engineers and site leaders, introducing Dow’s work processes,” he explains. His global integration role gives him tremendous influence on the direction of these initiatives.
Bell has been at Dow for twenty-two years. He started in manufacturing and moved into related responsibilities like production leader and environmental, health and safety global operations leader for Dow’s building and construction business; global business operation leader for engineered films and laminates; corporate waste minimization/byproduct synergy leader; portfolio technology center director and, in 2007, technology director for both the specialties and ventures and portfolio technology centers.
Bell became a certified Six Sigma black belt in 2005. That year he also represented Dow on the board of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development. Clearly, travel has always been important in his work, and now there’s more than ever before. “My family has adjusted to my travel schedule,” says Bell. “I try to plan appropriately so that I don’t miss major events, birthdays and things like that.”
Bell was born in Flint, MI and developed a passion for math, science and chemistry in high school. He received his BSChE from Tri-State University (Angola, IN) in 1987. He met his wife, also a ChE, in college.
He was an implementation leader for Dow’s African American Network more than ten years ago and is still active in the group. “Dow has expanded its policies of inclusion over the past ten years,” Bell says with pride. “Besides the African American network, we have a women’s innovation network, a Hispanic-Latin network, an Asian network, a network for employees with disabilities, and more.
“We keep our eye on the ball by understanding the communities in which we work. Our talent pool is global; we focus on different ideas and thoughts and bring in the best and most diverse talent we can find. We need the best to stay innovative, creative and lead the way.”
Eileen Manning: new products team leader at Pfizer
Eileen Manning oversees small-molecule projects, but has large responsibilities at Pfizer, Inc (New York, NY). As director/team leader in new products at Pfizer Global Manufacturing, she’s the key point of contact for co-development activities: a partnership of pharmaceutical sciences and manufacturing.
She leads a team of project managers that prepare for commercialization of new products. Their notable recent launches include Chantix, for smoking cessation, Selzentry for HIV, Sutent for oncology, and Toviaz, Pfizer’s prescription product for overactive bladder problems.
Manning cooperates with Pfizer global manufacturing and worldwide pharmaceutical sciences sites at worldwide locations to develop and launch new products. “I spend a lot of time in teleconferences, and I spend about a quarter of my time traveling,” she notes.
Manning was a serious student, good at math and science in high school. She earned a 1991 BSChE and a 1993 MSChE at Manhattan College (Riverdale, NY), and a 2001 MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY).
“I was attracted to pharmaceuticals because I saw it as an area that would be exciting to work in and one where I could help people,” she says. She joined Pfizer in 1991 as an associate engineer and has worked in several areas of the organization, including project engineering, R&D and manufacturing, at locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
She’s pleased with Pfizer’s commitment to diversity. “We have a lot to gain by taking advantage of diversity and all it can offer.”
Henry Michael: process responsibility at ADM
Henry Michael is a process engineer at the bioproducts division of Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM, Decatur, IL), a worldwide firm that turns crops like corn, oilseeds, wheat and cocoa into food ingredients, animal feed and fuels and chemicals. Michael oversees the lactic acid production process in the refinery department. He manages day-to-day process responsibilities, including oversight of the load-out facility, where railcars and trucks unload their cargoes of raw materials and load up with the products ADM sells.
Michael grew up in Pakistan and came to the U.S. with his family when he was fifteen. Most of his early schooling was in Karachi but he graduated from high school in Chicago, IL. He earned a 2003 BSChE at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
His father, he says, had a lot to say about his choice of careers. “In our part of the world it was a common practice for parents to determine the future careers of their children,” he notes.
He joined ADM right out of college. “This company is very proactive in making sure its workforce is diverse,” he says. “I think it’s the right mindset in today’s economy and business world.”
He sees diversity as a key ingredient in the company’s success. “Having a diverse workforce gives us the opportunity to see the world from many different points of view. This keeps us aware, knowledgeable and prepared to do business with other nations.”
Felix Egbe is in charge of core processes at Acushnet
“I emulate my father,” Felix Egbe states proudly. Egbe is senior process engineer for Acushnet Co (Fairhaven, MA), manufacturer of golf balls, clubs, shoes, gloves and accessories. His father was a ChE with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.
Born in Nigeria, Egbe came to the U.S. when he was eleven, and went on to a 1996 BSChE from the University of Alabama (Huntsville, AL). After college he worked for the Saline, MI automotive components holding division of Ford Motor Co. He worked on automobile interiors, with a group of twenty to thirty people reporting to him.
He moved to Acushnet four years ago. He’s currently in charge of core processes for Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, which use both solid and dual-process cores.
“My job is to see that the cores have the correct physical properties and size. I have to anticipate problems rather than react to them. I fight defects!” he says. He’s also responsible for reducing downtime on machinery, with two quality technicians reporting to him.
Although the product lines couldn’t be more different, Egbe notes that the molding process he’s involved with now is similar to his work at Ford, where he was in charge of reaction and injection molding for instrument panels.
“Do a good job and it doesn’t matter who you are,” Egbe says. “Any company wants to be profitable, and if you help make it so, the door is always open. And my work ethic is to push, push! Give the company a good reason for keeping me!”
In his free time, Egbe tutors high school juniors and seniors in math.
Maribel Crespin helps make MillerCoors the benchmark
Environmental engineer Maribel Crespin has twenty-one years of experience in the brewing and beverage container industries. She worked for Coors Brewing Co and Rocky Mountain Metal Container, both based in Golden, CO. Now she works for MillerCoors (Chicago, IL), still in the company’s Golden, CO facility, adding management systems and operations audits to her environmental engineering role.
In the corporate department of sustainability, safety, health and environment, Crespin helps breweries and container plants with environmental issues, making sure they’re in compliance with local, state and federal EPA regulations. For example, she led the development of an online tool to let employees input and track their safety training and safety and environmental participation, “showing how all our employees make a difference in building a culture of safety at MillerCoors,” she notes.
In a more proactive role, Crespin has management system work to do. She must, for example, determine how environmental health and safety processes will be impacted by changes such as a new packaging line. “Restrictions are tight, so if something happens we have to be ready to act,” she explains.
She’s also part of a team that audits MillerCoors operations, including eight breweries, bottle and can manufacturing facilities, grain elevators and the distributing company.
Under Crespin’s guidance, the MillerCoors environmental health and safety (EHS) groups developed a standardized approach to EHS management, including a formalized auditing process to assure compliance with regulations.
Crespin was born in the U.S. while her family was part of the Bracero program that brought Mexican workers to this country. The family returned to Mexico, then moved to Colorado from Mexico when she was fifteen. She got her BSChE from the University of Colorado in 1988; in 1997 she completed an MS in environmental policy and management at the University of Denver (Denver, CO).
Crespin was interested in the environment even as a child in Mexico. “I wasn’t the only woman in my ChE classes here but I think I was the only Hispanic woman,” she recalls.
Today she’s a board member of Colorado’s MESA (mathematics, engineering and science achievement) program and MillerCoors’ company representative to the group. MESA helps ethnic minority, underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students go to college.
She’s also a member of the MillerCoors Hispanic employee affinity group, which works with MESA and a state group, the Latin American Educational Foundation.
Looking forward, Crespin sees more of the environmental engineering work she loves. “I want to make MillerCoors the leader in environment, health and safety,” she proclaims. “I want us to be the benchmark for other companies!”
Sarne Hutcherson: full measure at the Timken Co
The Timken Co (Canton, OH) makes bearings and other highly engineered steel products. ME Sarne Hutcherson is senior development engineer in Timken’s product metrology development group. He’s responsible for acquisition, development and implementation of coordinate measurement machine (CMM) technologies and related software development, training and internal support. Workers, he explains, use the CMM’s calibrated probe/sensor to make critical measurements on workpieces.
Hutcherson has been on this job for three years, consulting on new machines for existing and new plant implementations. He’s also the liaison with Timken’s corporate engineering support group to develop, train and support offline measurement programs for CMM users.
“Basically, my job entails finding the right vendors for the right applications, acquiring the machines, making modifications if needed and installing the machines,” he explains. He’s also responsible for training and mentoring the people who will be using the machines.
A native of Baton Rouge, LA, Hutcherson was always excellent in science and math at school. “Other subjects weren’t hard, I just wasn’t very interested in them,” he remembers. He did appreciate the precision demanded in an architectural design class, which pointed him in the direction of engineering.
In college, “I chose ME because of its broader engineering focus and potential,” he says.
“You had to know the other disciplines to do ME.”
He completed a BSME at Southern University (Baton Rouge, LA) in 2002 and went on to an MSME from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2004.
In school he interned at HP in Vancouver, WA, and Delphi Delco Electronic Systems (Kokomo, IN). He joined Timken in 2002: “They lured me in here telling me I’d be working with robots,” he recalls with a laugh.
And sure enough, he found himself responsible for development, programming and implementation of robotic material-handling equipment, including gantry robotic arms, which
he integrated with other automated systems in a manufacturing work cell. “I was responsible for a CMM automated system, and that work led to my current position and responsibilities,”
Outside work, Hutcherson is a director of the Canton-Alliance-Massillon section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and head advisor for the Canton-area Timken Engineering Explorers post.
Joe Roybal manages test ops in technology manufacturing at TI
Joe Roybal is test operations manager for the technology manufacturing group test technology and product engineering organization at Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX). His teams focus on quality, yield, test solutions, services and efficient operations for new product releases. Four people report to him directly with more than 460 people under them.
Roybal believes in communicating at work. He has weekly staff meetings with his direct reports and attends operations meetings, presents at department meetings, hosts round tables with all levels of TI folks, and spends time on the factory floor talking with technicians, engineers, supervisors, managers and the people who operate the machines.
“I love coming to work each day,” he says.
Loving work started early for Roybal. “I read physics books in fifth grade; Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein were my heroes,” he recalls. “I always liked to build things, and I grew up in the construction trades. In high school I took advanced courses but I really did not know what I wanted to do. Then I thought, ‘Engineering might work!’”
Roybal earned his BSME at New Mexico State University. He qualified for a contractor’s license during his senior year in high school and built a house before he graduated from college.
After college he worked for Halliburton for three years as a well site and business development engineer in Casper, WY. “It gave me a good perspective on things,” he says. “I learned to follow up on reports and engage with customers.” Then he joined Twin Star Semiconductor (Richardson, TX), a startup company.
Roybal joined TI in 1998 as startup ramp manager for the company’s first 300-mm facility. He went on to various engineering manager jobs and a factory quality manager position, and has led several global teams focused on new products and quality.
Roybal, who is Hispanic, gives TI high marks for diversity. “This is our tenth consecutive year of being on Fortune magazine’s 100 best companies to work for,” Roybal says proudly.
“Everyone from the CEO on down pushes diversity. As a global company it makes us more competitive. Besides things like gender and ethnicity, we appreciate differences in work styles, thoughts and ideas.”
DIVERSITY-MINDED COMPANIES EMPLOYING MANUFACTURING ENGINEERS
See websites for current openings
|Company and location
|Acushnet Co (Fairhaven, MA)
||Golf balls, clubs, shoes and gloves
|Archer Daniels Midland Co (Decatur, IL)
||Converts corn, oilseeds, wheat and cocoa into products for food, animal feed, chemical and energy uses
|Deere & Co (Moline, IL)
|Agricultural, construction and forestry equipment
|Dow Chemical Co (Midland, MI) www.dow.com
||Diversified chemical company
|Ford Motor Co (Dearborn, MI)
|General Electric (Fairfield, CT)
|Diversified technology, media and financial services company
|MillerCoors (Chicago, IL) www.millercoors.com
|Pfizer, Inc (New York, NY)
|Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX)
|Global analog and digital semiconductor IC design and manufacturing
|The Timken Co (Canton, OH)
||Antifriction bearings and related products and
services; alloy steel and components
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