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30 Under 30: Amanda Nixon

Amanda Nixon





Age: 21
Flint, MI
*Click here to download our 30 Under 30 List*

IMTS, as Manufacturing Engineering readers know, is a major event in the manufacturing world: The biennial trade show is the largest event of its kind in North America. When a major international company has a new robotic manufacturing solution to reveal and demonstrate at the show, you know they’ll do everything they can to make certain that nothing goes wrong. So what kind of experienced, talented material-handling expert would such a company trust to lead such a project? In 2012, Fanuc Robotics turned to a 20-year-old student intern named Amanda Nixon—who came through with flying colors.

Amanda majors in mechanical engineering at Kettering University (Flint, MI) and has worked as a temp/co-op at Fanuc’s Rochester Hills, MI, facility off and on since July 2010. Prior to IMTS 2012, she had spent three-month stints at Fanuc, learning operations, product development, and—for six months—material handling.

Amanda told ME Media in our December 2012 issue that the Fanuc booth had 15–20 different demo cells, some with multiple robot implementations. After ideas for the demo cells took shape in March, the design-program-test-approve cycle took four to five months.

“It took that long because most of the cells for IMTS were brand new and had a lot of custom parts that needed to be made for the full functionality of the cell,” she explained. The cell Amanda helped design and program featured the LR-Mate 200iD intelligent assembly robot.

“I was considered partial owner of the cell along with a senior engineer. The owners of the cell did most of the work, along with a few other people who helped throughout the process,” she explained. “The robot’s job was to pick light sockets off a Flexomation feeder at random and insert them into their fixture. Fanuc’s 2D iRVision was used for the robot to pick the parts that were fed at random. A recirculating system was designed so the robot could continuously go through parts during the show without stopping. The point of the cell was to show the speed of the new robot and to market its new capabilities.”

Amanda began to show interest in engineering “at age 14 when she attended an SME Education Foundation STEPS camp,” reports her aunt, SME’s Rosemary Csizmadia. Amanda says that she also has benefited from the examples of her uncle—an engineer at Ford—and an older sister and brother, both of whom are engineers at Caterpillar. (Full disclosure: Amanda’s mom as well as her aunt are SME employees.)

What Amanda enjoys about manufacturing is the satisfaction of designing a project or system step by step, and seeing it, at last, successfully come together and work. That’s something that isn’t talked about enough, she thinks. “In the media, the term ‘engineering’ can have negative connotations—engineers are shown as the high-school nerds or geeks as grown-ups.” But in reality, “engineers are the people who make things—and make things happen.” ME

Published Date : 7/1/2013

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