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Shining a Light on Female Voices in Engineering

March 8, 2024
International Women's Day provides an opportunity to highlight industry expertise from women working in the fluid power and electric motion control space.

Each year, International Women's Day (IWD) offers a chance to spotlight the important work women are doing in a range of industries and disciplines. Taking place March 8, the theme for 2024 is Inspire Inclusion to focus on the need for creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive world. 

IWD is an important event to observe because there remain many issues related to gender equality, bias and underrepresentation in various fields. Engineering, and the fluid power portion of it, are example areas in which men continue to make up the majority of the workforce. This is slowly changing, but efforts continue to bring more women and other equity seeking groups into these career fields. 

Doing so will be necessary to not only address the labor challenges facing these and other industries but also bring more ideas and innovation into the market. 

READ MORE: How Do We Attract More Women to Fluid Power and STEM?

In honor of IWD 2024 and March also being women's history month, Power & Motion wants to shine a light on some of the women from the fluid power and electric motion control sector we've had the opportunity to work with recently. 

Melissa Childers, Business Development Manager, Motion Systems Group, Pneumatic Division at Parker Hannifin

For Power & Motion's State of the Industry coverage, we had a chance to speak with Melissa Childers from Parker Hannifin about trends she is seeing in the pneumatics sector. In our interview she discussed the ongoing implementation of IoT (Internet of Things) within pneumatics systems as well as the need to continue improving their efficiency. 

She also discussed the need to integrate smart technology into these systems while making easy to use. 

Despite the use of electric options increasing in many applications, Childers said there are still opportunities for pneumatics which includes hybrid solutions which pair the technology with electronics. 

Read "Pneumatics Continue to Adapt to Market Needs" for our full interview with Childers.

Hong Liang, Ph.D., Oscar S. Wyatt Jr. Professor in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University

In May 2023, Hong Liang of Texas A&M University was appointed president of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) for a 1-year term. Power & Motion had the opportunity to speak with her about what she wanted to accomplish during her tenure as president as well as key trends she sees impacting tribology and lubrication. 

Among her top goals was enhancing STLE's strategic plan as well as expanding education about tribology and lubrication to help promote it as a viable engineering field to enter. Like many industries, the large industry trends of electrification and digitalization are impacting the field and necessitating more people entering it to help bring new perspectives and innovation. 

Watch our interview with Liang below to learn more about the top trends she sees impacting tribology and lubrication or read our full interview with her in the article "An Exciting Time for Tribology and Lubrication."

To honor women working the field of tribology and lubrication, STLE has also released a digital-only book featuring women working in this sector. "STLE Women in Tribology and Lubrication: Perspectives From Leaders in the Field" is comprised of stories and thoughts from 10 established senior-level women who have worked as lubrication scientists and engineers for at least 25 years.

Within the book, available for order from STLE, are insights on their experiences in the field of lubrication, the positives and negatives they've had in their careers and more. 

Keerti Kappagantula, materials scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

Keerti Kappagantula and her colleagues at the Dept. of Energy's (DOE) PNNL recently found adding graphene to copper wiring has the potential to improve the performance of electric motors and other applications which might use the wiring. 

In our interview with Kappagantula, she said the high electrical conductivity of graphene can benefit various applications, especially its ability to do so when operating temperatures are elevated. This will greatly aid future electric motor designs as these components are known to get very hot; new design opportunities could be possible if copper wiring with graphene were used as conductivity would not be negatively impacted as temperatures reached higher levels. 

Read "How Graphene Could Improve the Efficiency of Electric Motors" to learn more about the research conducted by Kappagantula and her colleagues

Linda Schwartzen, Product Marketing Manager for Actuators at Emerson

Power & Motion has had the opportunity to work with Linda Schwartzen of Emerson a few times now, most recently on a webinar and two articles focused on understanding and selecting the right type of motion components for automation systems. 

In particular, Schwartzen has provided her expertise in explaining the pros and cons of electric actuators and pneumatic versions, and how to select the best option for a given application. Additionally, she has delved into the role hybrid systems which bring together these two technologies can play in meeting future automation system needs.  

You can read her articles: 

Or watch her presentation for the webinar, "The Benefits of Electric Linear Actuators in Automation Systems" which is available on demand.

Marica Klein, Treasurer at Casappa Corp.

Prior to the 2023 edition of the International Fluid Power Exposition (IFPE), Power & Motion had the chance to speak with Casappa's Marcia Klein who was chairperson of the event to discuss what could be expected at the largest event for the hydraulics and pneumatics industry. 

During our interview, she discussed the emphasis on intelligent components and systems at the show as well as how energy is used — ongoing themes for the fluid power industry to create more connected and energy efficient systems.

Read our full interview with Klein "IFPE 2023 to Shine Light on the Future of Motion Control."

Valeria Terelli, president & CEO of Aidro Hydraulics & 3D Printing (a Desktop Metal company)

Valeria Terelli has spoken with Power & Motion a number of times about how her company is utilizing 3D printing in the fluid power industry and the benefits of doing so. According to Terelli, this technology offers the opportunity to rethink how parts are designed. 

New, more optimized designs are possible with unique geometries and the ability to reduce part counts among the benefits which can be achieved. Multiple parts can be integrated into a single unit, helping create more compact systems which are also lower in weight.

Terelli is also a member of Power & Motion’s Editorial Advisory Board, where she offers her thoughts on topics we could cover based on her knowledge and experience within the fluid power industry. 

Read "Additive Manufacturing Brings Opportunities to Improve Component Design and Production" for more of Terelli's insights on the use of 3D printing.

There are of course many more women working in the field of hydraulics, pneumatics and electric motion control whom we have had the opportunity to work with over the years, and many more we look forward to speaking with in the future as we have the opportunity. 

You can find even more content related to workplace issues affecting the engineering field, in addition to contributions from women and other equity seeking groups and subject matter experts within various subdisciplines on our WISE (Workers in Science and Engineering) hub.

About the Author

Sara Jensen | Technical Editor, Power & Motion

Sara Jensen is technical editor of Power & Motion, directing expanded coverage into the modern fluid power space, as well as mechatronic and smart technologies. She has over 15 years of publishing experience. Prior to Power & Motion she spent 11 years with a trade publication for engineers of heavy-duty equipment, the last 3 of which were as the editor and brand lead. Over the course of her time in the B2B industry, Sara has gained an extensive knowledge of various heavy-duty equipment industries — including construction, agriculture, mining and on-road trucks —along with the systems and market trends which impact them such as fluid power and electronic motion control technologies. 

You can follow Sara and Power & Motion via the following social media handles:

X (formerly Twitter): @TechnlgyEditor and @PowerMotionTech

LinkedIn: @SaraJensen and @Power&Motion

Facebook: @PowerMotionTech

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