Modern Machine Shop

NOV 2018

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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Page 83 of 155

MMS NOVEMBER 2018 82 WOMEN IN MANUFACTURING Work Hard, Prove Yourself Not all manufacturing careers begin when a person earns her diploma. Some opportunities begin out of necessity. When applying for a job in the United States, and English is not your first language, you find a job that lets your actions speak to your strengths. That was the case for Elena Rodriguez, who began her manufacturing career in 2006 working with plastics machines and printing labels on plastic parts. In 2010, Ms. Rodriguez decided to expand her career as a CNC lathe machine oper- ator, and within a couple months she transitioned into the role of CNC lathe setup person—a job that normally takes years of training to attain. Another opportunity was then presented a year later in the Swiss-type-lathe department where she honed her skills and became a premiere setup person. After a short layoff period, a former coworker mentioned her capabilities to Aneesa Muthana, owner of Pioneer Service in Addison, Illinois, where she has been employed since 2017. Attaining a job in a non-native-language posi- tion and quickly moving to a new role represent two cases in which Ms. Rodriguez has broken through barriers. A third has been thriving as a machinist/setup person on the male-dominated shop floor. Her ability to do this comes from the confidence that was instilled in her from the beginning, she says. As a child, her father used to show her his builder's blueprints and teach her how to read them. This ignited her passion for making things. In addi- tion, she says her mother was a strong woman who instilled in her a work ethic to do a good job and fostered her desire to work with her hands. Her parents taught her to achieve her dreams through hard work and dedi- cation—lessons that have served her well on the shop floor. According to Ms. Rodriguez, the only way to survive on the shop floor is to have confidence and be aggres- sive, otherwise she might not be taken seriously. "This is how I see it," she says. "We (women) have to fight. We have to be strong." Her strength and willingness to prove herself helped her in her former job where she says her CNC supervisor expected her to fail. Instead of being intimidated, she did the physical work of lifting barstock and loading machines, along with the knowledge work of properly understanding tooling management and loading. Eventually, she proved to her supervisor that she was more than qualified for the job, and he then became her biggest advocate. "When I started manufacturing, making parts was not easy," she says. "It is challenging for many people. But I can do it with my little hands. (Ms. Rodriguez is a petite, 5-foot-tall woman.) I love it. Sometimes I tell myself, 'look what you ELENA RODRIGUEZ | MACHINE OPERATOR/SETUP PERSON When Ms. Rodriguez decided to expand her career as a CNC lathe machine operator, she was able to transition into the role of CNC lathe setup person—a job that normally takes years of training to achieve. Photo: Pioneer Service WOMEN TRANSFORM IMTS During the show, Women in Big Data presented the Digital Transformation Conference. An all-female panel presented tips and tricks for understanding the value of data, enabling those on the shop floor to make better decisions. Watch the video at .

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