What advice would you pass on to young women who are considering engineering?
Engineering offers many professional opportunities and prepares students for many careers beyond engineering as it emphasizes logical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork. Young women considering engineering must keep all their options open and inform themselves of the exciting rewards of a career in engineering. They should not dismiss it early while making choices in high school and talk to engineers to learn more about the many opportunities and doors a career in engineering opens. My mother used to tell me, and rightly so, that: I can achieve any goal you set your mind to” – that was a valuable inspiration.
I would say to them to have clear goals and work hard to achieve them, but mix focus on achievement with some fun. Also to seek balance in life and recognize the importance of family; one can have a happy family and a successful career.
In addition to working with the University, you also are a consultant with government and corporate organizations, working on advanced manufacturing technologies and products as well as systems design. Can you tell me a little more about what you are currently working on?
I have helped industry over the years implement new technologies that improve their competitiveness and profitability. I also advise both the Federal and Provincial governments in Canada on the future trends in manufacturing in the world, particularly those countries with economies similar to ours, the new technological advances that are likely to have a strong impact in the industrial sector now and in the future. I also consult for the European Union on aspects of intelligent manufacturing.
However, in addition to individual technologies, I particularly emphasize the technology multipliers and enablers that have a sector-wide impact on productivity and the health of manufacturing. I was one of the early researchers who developed the then new paradigm of flexible manufacturing in the early nineties. I founded the Flexible Manufacturing R&D centre at McMaster which was a first in Canada then. Flexible Automation has allowed manufacturers to achieve economy of scope (more products variants) while benefiting from the advantages of economy of scale (mass production). Today, every successful automotive company, their suppliers and other manufacturers boast about how their systems are flexible.
In the centre for Intelligent Manufacturing Systems at the University of Windsor, I together with my research group, are developing the new paradigm in manufacturing systems which will not only be flexible but also reconfigurable and changeable. This will be a game changer as systems design and control will be designed to evolve over time as products change and their variety increases while maintaining high productivity and competitiveness. We coined the term “co-evolution of products” and systems, which mimics the natural biological co-evolution, and developed its scientific foundation and many of its enablers that would allow companies to continue to use the same manufacturing systems with few modifications to produce new and significantly different products and features. The savings in re-tooling investments and shut down cost will be immense and it will help us bring manufacturing back to North America. We have an iFactory, which is a modular and reconfigurable Factory-in-a-Lab. (the first in North America and second in the world) to help us implement these ideas, train students and demonstrate the new concepts to industry.
Originally posted 2016-06-24 17:31:51.