Wilcoxon Sensing Technologies congratulations transducer design engineer Michelle Marin for being recognized as a Champion of Maryland Manufacturing for outstanding contributions from Women in Manufacturing by the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland.
Michelle began working at Wilcoxon in 1997, shortly after immigrating to the US from Romania with a degree in Mechanical Design Engineering from the POLITEHNICA University of Bucharest. As a drafter, working primarily in AutoCAD for Wilcoxon’s documentation department, Michelle asked a lot of questions and demonstrated an eagerness to learn – she first taught herself the imperial geometric dimensioning and tolerancing system (as she was trained in the metric system), learned how piezoelectric material was used to design various vibration sensors and eventually how to design an industrial accelerometer from the bottom up.
In only three years, Michelle was promoted to the Engineering Department. She credits her boss at the time for the opportunity to become part of the design team and two of her colleagues, Ken Deng, for introducing her to Finite Element Analysis (FEA), and Matt Goenner, for mentoring her in the complex and detailed aspects of designing and manufacturing transducers. Michelle took over and expanded the FEA transducer design methodology and processes, incorporating more complex 3D design concepts and Multiphysics simulations, to optimize sensor performance and architecture. For example, she could minimize the weight of a sensor while maximizing the sensitivity and/or pressure rating of the sensor. Mastering FEA also meant designing and optimizing 80%-90% of a sensor in the first design phase, a dramatic improvement over iterative prototyping, which used to take weeks or even months.
To speed up the product development process, Michelle started to outline, design, and develop the assembly process along with manufacturing tooling and fixturing as part of the transducer design phase Developing a detailed assembly process during transducer design allowed early assessment and mitigation of potential problems, critical steps, and risks and resulted in more reliable sensor builds, with fewer failures, that could be manufactured faster.
By improving sensor performance, minimizing material and manufacturing costs, and reducing development and manufacturing time, Michelle laid the groundwork to improve Wilcoxon’s competitive position - in traditional industrial vibration sensors and innovative research and development. Michelle is particularly proud of her contributions to developing underwater acoustic sensors for defense applications. The physical phenomena impacting underwater sensors added another layer of complexity to the design process, where understanding of sound wave propagation (acoustics), effects of varying hydrostatic pressure with depth, and design considerations for fluid submerged electro-mechanical equipment are crucial.
More than any sensor in her 25 years at Wilcoxon, Michelle is most proud of her twin girls, seniors in high school who are poised to follow their mother’s scientific footsteps in college. When asked if being a woman or a mother was ever a hindrance to her career, Michelle replied, “Wilcoxon gave me every chance possible, every opportunity to grow in my field.”
Like the mentors to whom she credits her own success, Michelle is passing down her wealth of knowledge and experience to give new team members the opportunity to grow. “Our best products are developed by a team, not by individuals, so naturally, teaching and sharing my knowledge was absolutely critical,” Michelle said. “For me, it is important to train and explain - not only how certain tasks must be performed, but why they are done that way. When we go in-depth into theory, design, material, and assembly aspects, they are better equipped to make good decisions, avoid potential problems, think critically, and so, truly, become active team players.”
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