One of the goals of Manufacturing Day is to inspire young people to pursue careers in the industry and within engineering fields. Because women have historically been underrepresented in manufacturing, I wanted to talk with three of my colleagues about their path to manufacturing and why the next generation of women should consider following their lead. I’m honored to spotlight Shaked Bar, Vision Application Team Leader, Angelique Oncale, Systems Support Engineer, and Calanit Ozeri, VP Software Engineering.
What is your role at Bright Machines and what does your day usually look like?
Shaked: I lead a team that implements the vision packages for Bright Machines products. In short, we’re responsible for the “eyes and brains” of the machines. As a team leader, I’m responsible for all the solutions that I implement myself and those that I build with my team. Using cameras and various technologies, we’re making the machines more intelligent. For instance, we want the device to know if something goes wrong in the manufacturing process. Using AI, the machines get better over time without engineering intervention. Most of my day, I’m moving around to different projects and rarely sitting down, which is the way I like it!
Angelique: As a system support engineer, my job involves supporting the building of our automation lines. My focus is mainly on robotics programming, but I also work on mechanical design and vision applications. In my job I combine my experience in robotics with Bright Machines’ expertise in software as we work to bring software-defined manufacturing to the industry.
Calanit: I manage the operation of Bright Machines’ Israeli software organization. In the three years since I joined Bright Machines, we have built and deployed a new core platform that is the operating system of the machines. We support activities such as planning the line and the assembly process, collecting data, and introducing analytics solutions on top. In addition, we make sure the software is being written as an extendable platform that any user in manufacturing will be able to use and adjust to their needs in an easy and intuitive way.
What made you decide to pursue a career in manufacturing and engineering?
When I started college, I had never so much as picked up a power tool in my life and didn’t know how to build anything. I knew that technology was a future-proof career path, so I decided to go into engineering. I earned a degree in systems technology, which involves everything to do with manufacturing, from lean manufacturing to OSHA safety. I started to get really interested in CAD, and in my first job, I learned more about robotics. My experiences in CAD and robotics now go hand in hand.Angelique Oncale, Systems Support Engineer
Calanit: I knew I would pursue a career in engineering when my parents bought the family our first computer when I was in ninth grade. I began my engineering career in the army, working for many years in the cyber security industry. In the last few years, I became exposed to the number of opportunities for software engineers in the manufacturing industry, which led me to join Bright Machines.
Shaked: I always loved math and had wanted to be an engineer since I was young. It might run in my family as two of my siblings are also engineers! I received a degree in mechanical engineering and initially thought I wanted to work in the medical field. I was always fascinated by robotics and controls automation, though, so after two years in the medical field, I made a career pivot and came to work at Bright Machines.
Do you think women face challenges in joining and working in manufacturing today?
Calanit: There are still fewer women in manufacturing for historical reasons. I think this is true for most industries today. However, we’re seeing a change with more women taking roles in manufacturing and the software industry. It’s essential to have a healthy balance of men and women since diversity brings creativity and innovation, various opinions, and different solutions. At Bright Machines, we encourage our managers to create this balance within all teams. I am also proud to say that we have a fair number of women in executive and managerial roles, and I am convinced this trend will grow over time.
Angelique: I have not seen many barriers and think that women sometimes unintentionally create their own obstacles by being intimidated to join a historically male-dominated field. Generally, in engineering, people will let you speak up and give your opinion. When the team is trying to solve a problem, you want all the ideas. In this industry, people value what you do and what you deliver. Once people know what you’re talking about, respect is earned no matter your gender.
My team is 30% female, which is great for the engineering industry, so I think that some of the barriers are eroding. Unfortunately, women are often thought to be not as good at STEM subjects such as math, which is why some may not consider pursuing an engineering career. I believe that from a young age, women should be supported, so they gain confidence. It’s still the case that women often don’t hold technical C-Suite positions in manufacturing like CTO or CPO. When women see more of their fellow women in these top positions, they will feel that they can do the same.Shaked Bar, Vision Application Team Leader
What can be done to get the next generation of people interested in working in manufacturing?
Shaked: People outside the industry often don’t know much about manufacturing and think of it as working with oily, smelly machines. We need to convey that manufacturing is changing, and there is a renaissance in manufacturing, and it’s on the edge of technology. The variety of a manufacturing job can also appeal to people, as you can work with software, electronics, robots, or whatever part of tech is interesting to you. The projects are also diverse, as you might be building anything from coffee machines to medical devices. Another way to excite the next generation is to introduce them at a young age. People who work in the industry should give children tours of their workplaces and engage them by showing what they do with automation. For instance, I took my nieces on a tour of where I work and showed them all the robotics, which got them excited! The hands-on approach will help build the next generation of manufacturing enthusiasts.
Angelique: One of the most exciting elements of manufacturing is that you see the fruits of your labor. For instance, I write a program, and in 10 minutes, a machine is working based on what I just did. I also think we can teach manufacturing in a more exciting way. It’s very hands-on, so it doesn’t make sense to put a textbook about manufacturing in front of students. Yet if you show them how to put things together, make things work and allow them to build with the tools that we’re using in the actual industry, that will be a lot more interesting.
In the manufacturing industry, there are so many opportunities to innovate, especially through software. Almost everything we use in our daily lives exists because of manufacturing, so it’s cool to be part of an industry that touches everything. In the coming years, the manufacturing industry will only become more automated and change due to the cloud, and it’s exciting for the next generation to be a part of thisCalanit Ozeri, VP Software Engineering
What is your favorite piece of career advice to share?
Angelique: My advice is to lean into your interests. For instance, I got interested in computer design, so I took all the classes I could on the subject, then moved on to other relevant courses. If you figure out what you like and learn it well, you will be guided to a place where you’ll work on something you enjoy.
Shaked: My advice is to leave your ego aside in the engineering world. Have fun with what you’re doing and focus on making an impact on the world!
Calanit: My advice is not to be afraid of making brave decisions. It can be scary but can also pay off. For instance, I left my steady job at a large company to join Bright Machines when it was a small startup, and it was a risk that has paid off!
At Bright Machines, we are all innovators and experts in our craft who have come together to create a new category that will change the face of global manufacturing. Learn more about career opportunities.
Bright Machines’ team members in our Tel Aviv office are pictured in the image at the top. Top left to right is Sharon Goldstein and Daria Pasternak. Bottom left to right is Michal Bar, Dafna Ben Jacob, and Tamar Lahav.