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30 Under 30: Recognizing the Future Leaders of Manufacturing

By SME Media Staff

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In 2013, when Manufacturing Engineering launched its 30 Under 30 project to honor young people who have the potential to be manufacturing leaders, it was a bit of a pioneering effort. There were few—if any—comparable programs. While Forbes had initiated its 30 Under 30 program in 2011, it did not recognize manufacturing as a distinct category until 2015.

Today, in its fifth iteration, ME’s 30 Under 30 has become something of a tradition—one inspired by and supportive of SME’s longstanding efforts to improve and grow the manufacturing workforce.

This year’s class of honorees is a diverse and highly educated group. It is also one supported by people connected with the program in its early years who are giving back to manufacturing workforce development.

The Past is Prologue

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Meghan West, 2013

For instance, in the Viewpoints column in this issue Meghan West, president of CNC Software (Tolland CT), discusses the need for and methods of attracting women to manufacturing. West was one of the members of the ME’s first 30 Under 30 class. At that time, she was in charge of CNC Software’s education department. “For me, education is really important for this industry,” Meghan said. “Not just training students, but getting them to understand the value of manufacturing and improve its image. I don’t think people understand the kind of jobs they can have in manufacturing.”

For 2017, CNC Software has two honorees, Chad Chmura and Jesse Trinque. You’ll find their profiles and those of the other 28 honorees on the pages that follow.

Among those honorees you will also find another nominated by a member of the original 30 Under 30 class in 2013. Catherine “Cat” Tradd nominated Erin Winick, a University of Florida engineering graduate who founded a fashion technology company: Sci Chic (Gainesville, FL) creates 3D printed accessories inspired by STEM. The enterprise also develops text and video educational materials to encourage girls to explore engineering and 3D printing. Lest you think Erin has no “real” engineering experience, while in college she served four engineering internships for four different companies, including John Deere (Moline, IL) and Solar Turbines (San Diego).

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Catherine Tradd, 2013

Tradd herself works for Solar Turbines as a taxonomy business process lead and PartsLink System administrator. She met Winick at the Society of Women Engineers’ annual conference in 2013. Winick was there because she had been identified as an intern candidate for Solar Turbines. Impressed with Winick’s academics and accomplishments, Tradd immediately recommended that the student be offered an internship.

As is Winick, Tradd also is continuing giving back to the manufacturing and engineering community by supporting and mentoring young people with potential.

To this point, Nicole Metivier has taken a career path that is in many ways a reverse image of Erin Winick’s. She started in the arts and then moved on to manufacturing. A graduate of the College of Creative Studies (Detroit), Metivier put the experience she gained there in 3D printing to work at a large jewelry supplier, where she managed wax models and casting trees for lost-wax metal castings. Today she works for EnvisionTEC (Dearborn, MI) as a rapid prototyping technician and is engaged in R&D, repair work, machine analysis, and installation and training for customers.

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Sarah Webster

There is also a twist in the way Metivier was nominated. Rather than being put forward by a past honoree, she was nominated by Sarah Webster, who launched ME’s 30 Under 30 program when she was editor in chief. Webster is now global marketing manager at EnvisionTEC, and she still is an ardent supporter of manufacturing workforce development.

The Silicon Valley Connection

As manufacturing moves to the high-technology world of the digital domain, so too have our honorees.

Sandra Chen graduated from MIT (Cambridge, MA) with a degree in mechanical engineering. She joined Apple (Cupertino, CA) as a supplier quality engineer, then transitioned to Fitbit (San Francisco) in a number of manufacturing roles before joining Facebook (Menlo Park, CA). She is currently involved in sourcing operations and manufacturing quality.

Chen is also interested in giving back by encouraging those younger than herself to advance in manufacturing. While at Fitbit, for instance, she mentored manufacturing engineering team interns as well as recruiting and onboarding new full-time manufacturing and automation engineers.

Caroline Kulczuga also was educated east of the Mississippi and then went to California to start her career. Graduating from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) with a BA in Psychology and Business, She worked in sales at Google (San Francisco) before eventually returning to Illinois to join her family’s precision manufacturing business just outside of Chicago. Ultimate Machining & Engineering makes components for heavy equipment, but had been hurt by the loss of some key accounts to offshore manufacturers. As director of business development, Kulczuga used her business acumen and experience to reinvigorate operations and increase sales by 25%. She also promotes manufacturing through social media.

What It Takes

A question we get every year as we go through the process of selecting the 30 Under 30 honorees is, “What does it take to make the grade?” Of course, the usual answers apply: showing initiative, being innovative, acquiring—and applying—skills, setting high goals and meeting them.

All these things can help set a nominee apart. What can really make a nominee stand out is giving back, espousing manufacturing, and encouraging younger people to gain a good STEM education and the skills to apply that knowledge.

What can distinguish a nominee even more is working on the shop floor. Certainly the US needs more engineers of all types. But it also needs people to work on the shop floor to operate manufacturing machinery,

Just as our country has experienced a dearth of skilled workers, so, too, has 30 Under 30 seen a decline in the number of nominations of young people in these jobs. We’d like to see both these situations turn around.

30 Under 30 Profiles

Matthew Benzik, Age: 24

SLM Solutions NA Inc., Wixom, MI

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Matthew Benzik has worked to separate himself from his peers throughout his entire life, from operating his own ice cream business as a kid to keeping active in multiple extracurriculars while earning his engineering degree at Michigan Technological University. Since joining the workforce, his natural drive and curiosity has set him apart in his role as a field service engineer at SLM Solutions, where he installs, troubleshoots and services industrial metal 3D printers.

As his role makes him the de facto face of the company to customers, his enthusiasm and willingness to expand his knowledge and skills makes him an incredible asset. His talents range from discussing current projects with customers to developing case studies to working with the applications department to advance his understanding of build development, complementing his mechanical knowledge of the systems. Matthew’s passion for 3D printing, and specifically making it accessible to the younger generation, led directly to his nomination for 30 Under 30, as it shows his desire not only to do his job to the best of his ability, but to engage future members of the workforce to advance the industry as a whole.


Raj Bhakta, Age: 25

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

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As a 2nd year Ph.D. at North Carolina State University, Raj Bhakta hopes to leverage his studies in textiles engineering to develop disruptive technologies for smart textiles and commercialize them through future start-up companies. Armed with a belief that smart textiles are the next-generation platform for wearable technology, and the information to support that belief, his goal is to develop low-cost, highly-scalable, consumer-facing devices.

Still, his studies are not confined to textiles. After undergraduate and graduate studies in nuclear engineering, it wasn’t until he learned of the ASSIST Engineering Research Center, a National Science Foundation-funded program in NC State’s College of Textiles. Seeing the potential in the textiles industry—and, by extension, the fashion industry—Raj has ascertained that the first obstacle the industry must overcome is the intersection of cost and scalability. Because mass-market proliferation is necessary to gain quality data for actionable insights, he is taking inspiration from mobile devices and conceptualizing an “app store” for smart clothing in the healthcare sector, allowing users to download apps to receive actionable data on their health and biometric data. Once the infrastructure is in place, he believes the technology can be leveraged in developing nations to offer health analysis and preventative care at a very low barrier-to-entry, ideally empowering everyone to take control of their health. Raj hopes to see his plans help lead to the recognition of healthcare as a basic human right worldwide.


James Biaglow, Age: 21

The University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL

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James Biaglow has been working with machines since he was a child, helping his father fix the family home and car, build computers and landscape the yard. He entered his teens with experience in a wide range of tools and the techniques for using them. In high school, his interests focused on automotive design and fuel economy; his pursuit of knowledge led him to make aerodynamic, drivetrain and electrical modifications to a 2000 Ford Focus, improving fuel economy by more than 50 percent. His passion and ability led him to the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he is currently pursuing his degree in mechanical engineering on the UAH Charger Excellence merit scholarship, which covers the entire cost of tuition and housing.

At UAH, James is active in the Space Hardware Club, which placed second at the International CanSat Competition, competing against more experienced teams from around the world. The school’s mechanical engineering program has also exposed James to the world of PCB design, surface-mount soldering, composites manufacturing, CNC machining and additive manufacturing. In addition to his academic achievements, he spent his freshman year employed at aerospace start-up RadioBro Corp., interned the following summer at Parker Hannifin Corp., and has been working since May 2016 at Raytheon Missile Systems at both their Tucson, Ariz., and Huntsville facilities. James plans to continue his defense work with Raytheon after graduation, while hopefully pursuing a graduate degree in engineering with a focus on additive manufacturing, control systems, or propulsion.


Russell Brent, Age: 27

General Dynamics NASSCO, San Diego, CA

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With over 4000 employees, making it the largest full-service shipyard on the West Coast, General Dynamics NASSCO might be considered a difficult place to stand out. However, according to Parker Larson, director of commercial programs, Russell Brent does exactly that

Russell graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, NY), one of the five federal service academies; acceptance into Kings Point requires a congressional, senatorial or presidential nomination. With a degree in marine engineering systems and a minor in nuclear engineering, he graduated seventh in his class, third in the engineering department, and first in his minor. His studies required 300 days working aboard large merchant vessels in the engine room, providing a combination of leadership training, regimental discipline, rigorous academics, hands-on operational experience and world travel.

After being hired into NASSCO’s professional development program for high-potential employees, his first full-time job was as the production area manager of the engine room for the construction of the USNS Montford Point, a large semi-submersible modular platform designed to perform large-scale logistics movements for the US Navy, recognized as one of the most successful projects in NASSCO’s long history. He has also worked as machinery system manager on the USNS John Glenn and led production of the engine room on the ECO Class product tanker Lone Star State, the fastest production cycle of a large, 600’+ ship in modern history.

Following a promotion to project engineer for the design and construction of John Lewis-Class TAO-205 fleet oilers, he has already developed significant process improvements that have saved 1900 man-hours to date and will be implemented on future design projects.


Andrew Carter, Age: 29

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, Austin, TX

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Andrew Carter has made a name for himself not only as a machinist, but as a decorated proponent of research, a self-made pioneer on the cutting edge of new technology, an educator bringing advanced concepts to the public, and a mentor.

At Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, he made a splash promoting direct metal laser melting (DMLM) by comparing it to more traditional, established fabrication processes, and developing technical resources to help accelerate the adoption of this new technology. In addition, since 2014 he has given 10 high-profile public presentations, seminars and webinars on additive manufacturing and other topics and has received four Small Business Innovation Research grants aimed at developing novel applications and materials for DMLM. The grants were approved for a total of $1.25 million and used to characterize innovative film cooling holes for gas turbine engines and characterize MONEL K500 for liquid oxygen rocket components. Both concepts pushed the limits of traditional manufacturing and are helping to realize the new possibilities that come from additive manufacturing.

Andrew keeps an open-door policy as he works closely with undergraduate and graduate students from schools that include the University of Texas at Austin and Baylor University’s Convective Heat Transfer Lab, giving visibility into new technologies as well as providing internships and research opportunities.

“Andrew doesn’t just think of manufacturing as a job, he lives and breathes it,” said Kent Firestone, chief operations officer for Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. “On top of his work at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, Andrew brings innovation home.” At Andrew’s personal shop, he continued, you can currently see a work-in-progress CNC router and laser engraver, as well as a range of anodization, powder-coating and surface post-treatment equipment.


Sandra Chen, Age: 26

Facebook, Menlo Park, CA

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Sandra Chen came from a low-income background, growing up a young woman interested in technology in a non high-tech town. She found ways to follow her interests, developing her skill as an engineer through manufacturing internships where she was the sole female (and sometimes sole engineer) at companies that lacked resources to support her demographic. Finding success despite adversity, Sandra eventually took a role as a manufacturing engineer at Fitbit, where she helped standardize workflow procedures, aligned supply chain strategies and designed highly repeatable assembly fixtures for the company’s factory operations. She also set herself apart as an invaluable resource for the company’s incoming interns.

Getting involved with Equalbits, a resource group for women in tech at Fitbit, she helped identify key issues and worked to connect the company’s intern program partners with Equalbits activities as a learning resource. She also served as a mentor for engineering intern groups. Outside her professional capabilities, Sandra has worked to identify public and private scholarship funding opportunities to help her mentees fund their college careers. Outside Fitbit, she volunteered as a foster at an Oakland animal shelter.

Sandra maintained a rigorous work schedule as a manufacturing lead for Fitbit before accepting a role in NPI sourcing operations at social networking giant Facebook in late 2016. Bringing her leadership skills and engineering acumen to the division’s manufacturing quality division, she leads supplier selection/development and multi-sources supply chain roadmaps and business case initiatives for the company’s internal hardware. From negotiating key contract agreements to developing production strategies and tooling qualification schedules, Sandra brings value to any company—or community—lucky enough to have her.


Chad Chmura, Age: 27

CNC Software Inc., Tolland, CT

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In 11th grade, Chad Chmura was teaching his shop teacher how to program toolpaths in Mastercam. While that could have been a defining moment in his school years, it was quickly overshadowed the following year when he graduated as his high school class valedictorian and received both the Presidential Scholarship and the School of Engineering Scholarship at the University of Connecticut. Still, the moment was not lost on Mastercam, who hired him as soon as they were able—after all, if that’s what he was doing as a teenager, what could he do with a college education and the resources of the company at his disposal?

Today, Chad has moved on to training Mastercam customers, resellers and partner vendors, and helps develop future Mastercam releases. In perhaps the most prominent and visible example, he spent two months systematically comparing hundreds of finish variations on parts he machined in the Mastercam manufacturing lab, noting the look and feel of each choice and considering several ways to streamline the dialogue box to make it easier to use. The development team was impressed by his thoroughness, approach and execution, and his effort is reflected in the new interface.

“The tasks most people would find boring and tedious, Chad is fascinated by,” said Graham Hargreaves, marketing manager and part of the 2016 class of 30 Under 30 (https://advancedmanufacturing.org/hargreaves/). “His passion is manufacturing and his personality is people-focused, which is a winning combination,” Hargreaves said in his nomination letter. “Chad never stops thinking about how he can help customers do their jobs better and make their companies more efficient and productive. Looking into a crystal ball and predicting the impact Chad will have on the future of manufacturing is like trying to predict what Elon Musk would do when he was younger.”


Andrea Colosimo, Age: 27

Hyla Soft North America, Chicago, IL

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In the words of Manufacturing Engineering’s Editor In Chief James Sawyer, Andrea Colosimo’s list of accomplishments “makes me ask, ‘What have I done with my life?’” Even a cursory glance at her resume is enough to see why, as her accolades would be impressive for someone twice her age.

Having previously worked as a product designer for the automotive industry and a manufacturing engineer with Siemens, managing logistics for multiple departments and working with a breadth of technology, in 2015 Andrea came to Hyla Soft, an IT consulting firm focused solely on manufacturing technologies. Since joining the company, she’s worked for customers including Virgin Galactic and the US Navy; after less than two years, she has already moved into a leadership role, training and managing a team of junior consultants for the aerospace and defense, oil and gas, plastics, energy and industrial equipment sectors, helping companies improve their processes to become leaner, more efficient and more profitable.

According to Hyla Soft Practice Manager Matt Scanlan, who has served as Andrea’s supervisor and mentor at the company, Andrea goes out of her way to ensure every customer’s end user is comfortable and confident with the solutions her team implements.

“Andrea’s dedication and investment in each of her customers is the reason they trust her completely and request her time and time again,” he noted in his nomination letter. “Of all the young engineers that I have worked with in my career, I have yet to meet anyone who has matched Andrea’s extraordinary work ethic, innovative spirit, go-getter mindset, intelligence and potential.”


Adam Coulston, Age: 29

Brose North America Inc., Auburn Hills, MI

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Adam Coulston’s talent may have contributed to his career success at automotive components manufacturer Brose North America, but his reputation is the result of exceptional drive, dedication and hard work. Starting on the shop floor at Brose’s London, Ontario facility, he transferred to the company’s corporate headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI, as an intern. Distinguishing himself with his ambition and engagement, he took full responsibility for a major optimization project at the company’s Alabama manufacturing facility—again, as an intern.

Naturally, Brose offered Adam a position in its industrial engineering joining team, where he was able to connect his plant experience with the systematic planning approach utilized in his new department. In this role, he was a main contributor to the success of seat projects for lines including the Chrysler Pacifica, Jeep Wrangler and Honda Acura. Adam is now the lead industrial engineer for a front seat project, which allows him to showcase his leadership skills as well as his technical ability. While his team is relatively inexperienced, they are tackling challenging programs with great success, according to the company.

In addition to his existing accomplishments, Adam was selected for Brose’s regional talent program, which requires a nomination from executive management, an assessment from an external training company and presentations to the executive talent board. After receiving excellent marks in all areas, Adam will continue his professional development throughout the 18-month program.


Joshua Cukier, Age: 19

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

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Joshua Cukier, who received an SME Education Foundation Scholarship in 2016, has been using his time at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) to expand his knowledge and experience far beyond conventional manufacturing. Joshua is an alumni of his high school’s FIRST Robotics Team, which was tasked with designing a human-powered electricity generator. The apparatus had to accommodate any bicycle and had to use the energy produced to power a string of Christmas lights. This project pushed him to consider high-level production concepts like production feasibility and environmental impact, as well as the need for consistent technical documentation. In addition, as a member of the Human-Machine Interface subdivision of the Michigan Formula One Hybrid Racing Team (MHybrid), he not only received hands-on training with programs like AutoCAD and Abaqus, enabling him to design complex structures from carbon fiber, but was able to use that experience to aid in the design of an award-winning hybrid Formula One race car. His team designed steering wheels, contour seats, and headrests.

Now in his second summer as a manufacturing engineering intern, he is working for Falcon Lakeside Mfg., a Tier 1 supplier of die-cast parts, creating automation schemes for multiple machining cells requiring high throughput and high variability. In his first three weeks at Falcon Lakeside, he said, he had already created hundreds of models and layouts in SolidWorks, studied both collaborative and independent industrial robots, and developed an implementation plan for two automated machining cells. In addition to his work in the manufacturing industry, he has been composing music for new jazz ensembles, participating in creative writing competitions, and playing in an indie rock band with fellow students.


Cory Cunningham, Age: 29

The Boeing Co., Seattle, WA

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Starting as an engineering intern at the fabrication division of Boeing’s Emergent Operation (EO) MBU in 2012, Cory Cunningham hit the ground running. The following year, he was hired by the company full-time. Starting as a process engineer for the company’s finish line, investigating quality issues and identifying process improvement changes, his engagement and enthusiasm quickly made him the designated focus person for the finish line. His expertise in finishing led Boeing supplier management to tap him as a consultant for Tawazun Precision Industries, where he led the successful implementation of a finish line in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Currently, Cory is the subject matter expert for EO in 3D printing, responsible for the procurement and implementation of additive technology into EO’s statement of work. Although printed parts are not approved for flyaway hardware yet, Cory has identified opportunities for uses in tooling, rapid prototyping and shop aids for assembly. He has also brought in other new technologies, such as masking plotter and vision inspection systems, to improve processes in EO, as well as serving as the project manager for two new aluminum heat treat furnace setups and a hydroform press. Cory has managed expedited implementation of new cutting fluids throughout all EO’s machine centers.

Demonstrating strong leadership skill from day one, according to his nomination letter from Boeing’s Chester March, Cory participated in the 2015 REACH for Leadership program and is a current member of Boeing ONE (Opportunities for New Employees). The program is designed to cultivate skills in leadership, project management and technical development, and provide networking opportunities with technical experts and Boeing leadership.


Devin Grande, Age: 24

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, TX

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Devin M. Grande, an applications engineer in the manufacturing technology program for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. (LMAC), has carved a niche for himself in the field of metrology applications development. He combines technological knowledge with business expertise to help guide development and investment decisions. Focused on non-contact metrology technologies and how they can be applied to aircraft inspection/verification across various aircraft platforms, his unusual skill set has aided him and the company in the definition and execution of tasks associated with F-16 knowledge continuity, according to his nominator, LMAC’s Jamie Smith.

A 2014 aerospace engineering graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Devin’s metrology knowledge is nearly entirely self-developed. However, his understanding is advanced enough that his name is beginning to become known throughout the aerospace manufacturing industry as an expert in the field of metrology. The breadth of his metrology knowledge, combined with his technical background and eagerness to challenge himself, have provided him the opportunity to make significant contributions in metrology advancements, Smith noted. Those contributions include the development of scanning algorithms, proofs of concept for digital fit checks and periodic inspection, and (perhaps most significantly) F-16 master form and assembly tooling digitization and scan accuracy validation. These contributions have helped Lockheed Martin set itself apart in the industry by expanding the use of noncontact metrology equipment.


Daniel Iannuzzo, Age: 25

Packard Machinery Co., Westford, MA

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After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a business degree, Daniel Iannuzzo was hired at Packard Machinery Co. to coordinate between the company’s parts and service departments. As a machine tool distributor, Packard works with large OEMs, small job shops, and virtually everything in between. As a result, Daniel quickly learned how to relate to engineers, machine operators and business owners, and his hard work and positive attitude saw him promoted to the position of sales engineer.

In his current role, he travels and meets directly with manufacturers at all levels, in multiple sectors of industry. He not only sells equipment, but provides help and guidance to Packard’s customers. According to Wendell Packard, chairman of the board, Daniel is not only an excellent salesperson, but customers also look to him for suggestions on how to obtain the best return on their investments, how to achieve better cycle times, and how to develop other ways to improve their manufacturing processes.

In the two years since joining the sales team, Daniel has grossed over $10 million in sales, making him one of the company’s top-performing sales engineers, and one of the top-grossing Kitamura Machinery sales engineers in the US. He received Kitamura’s Silver & Gold Achievement Award for his efforts and accomplishments.

“Daniel is truly an outstanding achiever in his field and has a long future ahead working directly in the manufacturing sector,” said Packard in his nomination letter. “As his employer, I have found it a pleasure to work with him.”


Sean Kelly, Age: 24

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

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While an undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Sean Kelly worked at Saint-Gobain’s refractory manufacturing plant. Realizing the company’s material handling practices needed improvement, he took the initiative to develop strict protocols to prevent unnecessary handling and part damage due to improper transport. The process implementations led to increased product yield ratings through lower rejection rates, and are still in use today.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, he was recruited by the Metal Processing Institute, where he started his thesis research in June 2014. Working for the Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling (CR3), his thesis (“Scrap Characterization to Optimize the Recycling Process”) aimed to optimize the recycling process for automotive scrap metal for the secondary aluminum industry. Sean’s master’s work has been such a success that it has been voted on and approved by the members to be expanded to a PhD dissertation, to be titled “Automotive Aluminum Scrap Metal Material Flow Analysis with Compositional Projections.” He will work to determine the effect of aluminum-intensive vehicles (i.e. Ford’s F-150) on the current aluminum scrap market and determine how this influx of aluminum will shape the future flow and composition of the mixed-aluminum scrap steam.

In addition to his academic work, Sean has been published in NADCA’s High Integrity Casting of Lightweight Components, and a project with the Aluminum Association dedicated to determining the automotive aluminum recycling rate for the United States was summarized in the February 2017 edition of Light Metal Age. 


Kirsten Kozlovsky, Age: 21

University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

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Notre Dame graduate and Fulbright scholar Kristen Kozlovsky was called “one of the best graduate students I’ve ever had the pleasure to advise” and “the best student in her class” by Professor Steve Schmid, who was closely involved in her undergraduate and graduate studies, and who nominated her for inclusion in SME’s 30 Under 30. “She is intelligent, creative, and able to visualize difficult problems and pursue solutions.”

During her undergraduate studies, Kristen learned that Johnson & Johnson Corp. was looking to develop a strategy to incorporate additive manufacturing into their entire product line. One major challenge was the production of wear-resistant materials, as ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene cannot be produced additively. While this technology would have applications in sectors as diverse as aerospace, automotive, energy and machining, there are currently very limited options to achieve it. As a graduate student, Kristen designed, built and programmed a selective laser sintering testbed for the special characteristics of wear-resistant materials, and has since become the driving force behind an America Makes project on reuse of powder in additive manufacturing.

Kristen is currently working with the Product Accelerator, New Zealand’s center of excellence in the field of additive manufacturing, on a Fulbright Visiting Student Researcher Award—a rare honor for an engineer. Her work with the University of Auckland and the Auckland University of Technology revolves around furthering her research on selective laser sintering of polyethylene.

“One of the best parts of SME is the society’s dedication to the profession’s future,” Schmid said in his letter. “Well, she is the future, and it is a very comforting thought.”


Caroline Kulczuga, Age: 30

Ultimate Machining & Engineering Inc., Plainfield, IL

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For many young people, taking over the family business might be a daunting task; for Caroline Kulczuga, who recently took the helm of her family’s precision manufacturing business just outside Chicago, it just makes sense. The daughter of Polish refugees, she grew up sweeping the floors of her father’s machine shop; in 1994, her father founded Ultimate Machining & Engineering Inc., which produces hydraulic and pneumatic components for heavy equipment manufacturers, and thrived for almost 20 years before the increasing prevalence of offshoring saw the company enter some difficult straits.

After graduating from Northwestern University, Caroline was recruited by Google in San Francisco, where she worked for six years; when Ultimate began to struggle, she decided to leave her lucrative position at a major global technology company to rescue the company her father started. Since becoming director of business development almost two years ago, she has overhauled several important areas of the business, including both sales and operations, diversified the business, brought on new customers, and increased overall sales volume by 25 percent, allowing the company to hire additional employees to meet increased production demands. She also developed the company’s new website, and has been actively engaging in new media outlets and promoting US manufacturing through social media. In no small part because of the work Caroline has done to reorganize the company, the Alliance for Industry and Manufacturing (AIM) awarded Ultimate with the manufacturer of the year award in October of 2016.


Kathryn Merrill, Age: 25

The Boeing Company, Seattle, WA

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Kathryn Merrill’s introduction to manufacturing was…well, unlikely, to say the least. Working as a soda jerk at the Hillsboro (OR) Pharmacy and Fountain, she oversaw an “assembly line” that included two other employees, 15 buckets of ice cream, milkshake machines, and enough other ingredients to create over 100 combinations. It was her first job, and it eventually led to degrees in industrial engineering and finance from Oregon State University, as well as multiple internships (leading to permanent employment) with Boeing. She was a member of OSU’s SME student chapter, serving as treasurer for three years and revamping the group’s financial record-keeping. She also assisted in the transition of new officers and used her connections with Boeing to organize two SME student tours to the Seattle plant. She also participated in the Oregon State Investment Group, the Institute of Industrial Engineers, was an IBM Watson Scholar,  and an OSU College of Engineering Ambassador.

Her work with Boeing has been equally impressive. As an intern in 2013, she helped assess a supplier and, in her junior year, led discussions with said supplier. When she became a Boeing employee, Kathryn chose the Business Career Foundation Program in Seattle. In her five rotations, Kathryn worked with 777X estimating, contracts cash operations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) Working Capital, emergent operations and BCA Strategy Consulting. Earlier this year, she moved to Washington, DC to join the Network and Space Systems FP&A group.

According to OSU SME Faculty Advisor Karl Haapala’s nomination letter, Kathryn’s philosophy involves energizing and exciting younger students about manufacturing. “A large portion of that is to embody the attitude that with the right mindset, anyone can be an engineer and make a significant impact,” he said. “Not only in manufacturing, but in other people’s lives through engineering.”


Nicole Metivier, Age: 29

EnvisionTEC, Dearborn, MI

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Nicole Metivier didn’t follow the common “engineering degree -> internship -> employment” path that so many of her co-honorees have found success in; rather, she graduated from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies with a BFA in industrial and product design, and has been with EnvisionTEC as a rapid prototyping technician since July 2016. After earning her degree, Nicole entered the workforce as a freelancer. One job, at a large jewelry supplier, gave her extensive, hands-on experience with 3D printing, through managing wax models and casting trees for lost-wax metal castings. When EnvisionTEC needed to fill an opening for a rapid prototype technician and trainer, Nicole’s broad range of improbably-specific experience led them to reach out via LinkedIn to offer her the job.

A highly capable technician, she is involved with R&D, repair work, machine analysis, and installation and training for customers. One of the few female 3D printing technicians, her success can be—in part—traced back as far as grade school, where the checkable, one-question-one-answer nature of math became her passion. That direct line from problem to solution has remained a driving force.

“I enjoyed engineering models based on the parameters of the machine used to create them, going from an idea to accurate CAD files, then to finally [holding] the finished product,” Nicole said in her profile on EnvisionTEC’s website. “With 3D printing, you can innovate one thing for one person, or a multitude for many, and that, I feel, makes a big difference.”


Maxwell Micali, Age: 27

University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

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Maxwell Micali is a Yale graduate, currently pursuing a PhD in mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. After arriving at Berkeley (where he also earned his M.S. in mechanical engineering), Maxwell drove an effort to apply for (and ultimately win) a $250,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant to study data-driven, cyber-enabled topics in advanced manufacturing systems. Covering topics like physical phenomena at the tool tip, machine conditioning and prognostics, and factory floor production models, his research leverages the MTConnect interoperability standard to enhance the applicability of the academic research to real industrial scenarios. Maxwell submitted his project, “Extraction Design Characteristics from Unsecured MTConnect Data Streams,” to the MTConnect Student Challenge in 2016. He presented the topic and received an award at the [MC]2 conference. His doctoral research centers around simulation, optimization, and process planning for additive manufacturing technologies, and he has also contributed to research in cybermanufacturing, cybersecurity for manufacturing systems, sustainable manufacturing, and human-machine interaction for industrial equipment. He is funded through a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

During the time between his studies at Yale and Berkeley, Maxwell accepted a two-year science policy fellowship with the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Washington, DC, a federally funded R&D center with the purpose of conducting research and analysis for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, NSF, the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and other federal agencies. Outside his academic studies, his work as an intern with Autodesk involved reimagining and reframing the platform’s physical simulation products from being analytical tools to design tools.


Adam Millat, Age: 28

Millat Industries Corp., Dayton, OH

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Adam Millat’s manufacturing career began as a teenager, cleaning, painting and working other odd jobs at his family’s precision machining company, Millat Industries Corp. (Dayton, OH). In his off-hours, he worked on cars with his older brother, and in high school, both began working full-time during the summers. Their paths diverged when Adam chose to work the second shift at the company’s automotive, mass production machining division, where he took it upon himself to get to know his second shift associates and become familiar with the company’s manufacturing processes.

Adam went on to attend The Ohio State University, where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in entrepreneurship and was an active member of The Ohio State University Business Builders Club. Since graduation, Adam has returned to Millat Industries, working his way up to vice president of operations, responsible for his own manufacturing division.

Now in his off-hours Adam helps teenagers learn manufacturing skills, volunteering as a mentor at the Dayton Early College Academy and helping the Dayton Regional Manufacturing Association by guiding high school students through the local manufacturing trade show and explaining emerging manufacturing technologies. As a member of the Stamp Thermoelectric Generator group, he has also been instrumental in developing a working prototype for a portable device that turns heat into electricity to charge and power critical devices in adverse conditions.

“Adam excels in all aspects of manufacturing and is a great role model for the upcoming workforce and his peers,” according to the 30 Under 30 nominating letter, written by his brother Zach. “Adam’s experience, knowledge, and excitement for the advanced manufacturing industry [makes him] a great ambassador.”


Salvatore Palazzolo, Age: 27

Elkay Manufacturing, Oak Brook, IL

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Salvatore “Joe” Palazzolo’s name basically had to come up on this list, as he received no less than four independent nominations. Joe recently earned his M.S. in industrial project management, and has received his ASQ Six Sigma Green Belt certification; these accolades are only the latest in a young, but impressive, career.

Within two years of arriving at Elkay Manufacturing, he was promoted to senior product engineer before transitioning to a role as associate product manager. The new role allowed him to continue using his engineering ability while taking on management of a product line. Since making the move, he’s developed a strategy to grow his segment of Elkay’s drinking water fountain business, which includes bringing manufacturing of the fountains in-house—creating new jobs for Elkay, increasing product quality, and allowing for future innovations.

Joe honed his skills in roles at Caterpillar and Rayovac, and on week nights he works as an adjunct instructor at Moraine Valley Community College, teaching a course in industrial printing. Elkay Lead Product Engineer John Amer called Joe’s ability to bring teams together and execute projects “uncanny,” adding that “his tremendous analytical abilities never cease to amaze.” Whether managing a classroom or an assembly line, these traits are critical to the success of the individual, and of the industry.


Tim Pheland, Age: 27

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, North Kingstown, RI

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Over the past three years, Tim Pheland has made himself a known influence on Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence’s part manufacturing cell by consistently taking the initiative to define and implement significant process improvements to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a B.S. and M.S. in industrial and systems engineering, his reputation is one of exceeding expectations, according to Hexagon’s Brian Malloy in his nomination letter.

Perhaps most notably, to date Tim has successfully assessed machining cycle times for 11 different parts and identified and corrected inefficiencies in both programming and use of tooling. His efforts yielded a reduction in cycle time of roughly 49 percent, allowing Hexagon to nearly double throughput in the same time period, effectively halving cost per part. However, after nearly doubling production, Hexagon realized the finishing process needed to be optimized to keep up. Tim adapted the rough machining process to reduce handling damage and ensure proper poke-yoke setups. Scratch-prone components are now attached on the outer ends rather than on a fixture plate, which eliminates the risk of scratching during setups and changeovers.

“Tim has been challenged time and time again,” Malloy said, “only to deliver a reputable solution that falls within our cost and time constraints. Tim continues to contribute to making Hexagon a more profitable company.”


Zhengwen Pu, Age: 30

Hitachi Insight Group, Bellevue, WA

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Dr. Zhengwen Pu earned his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky at just 26 years of age. His research on cryogenic machining at the Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing has won international recognition, and his publications (including one book chapter and nearly 20 academic publications) were cited 360 times by researchers across almost 30 countries.

After graduation, Dr. Pu continued his research into advanced machining, joining Sandvik Coromant to work on superhard cutting tools, including industrial diamond tooling used in machining aerospace alloys. He continued his work on cryogenic machining at MAG Industrial Automation Systems (now 5ME), whose technology is used by Lockheed Martin in the F-35 program. He joined the Innovation Ventures Group at toolmaker Kennametal, contributing to the world’s first cloud-based cutting tool optimization software, NOVO Optimize, which led him to join the newly-founded Hitachi Insight Group in 2016. The group’s mission is to combine Hitachi’s 106 years of operations technology experience with its 57 years of information technology experience to create new solutions for the Industrial Internet of Things. He currently helps manufacturers in the US and abroad adopt the latest IIoT technologies to improve productivity and reduce cost. He has been recognized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” by demonstrating an “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim.”


Tyler Rigby, Age: 23

Nucor Steel Nebraska, Norfolk, NE

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SME Education Foundation scholarship recipient Tyler Rigby has had a busy year. Following an SME event in Florida, he traveled to Blytheville, AR, for a mechanical engineering internship in the meltshop at Nucor Steel Yamato. At the end of the summer, he returned to school for his senior year at Penn State Behrend, which not only saw him graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering but also secure a position at Nucor Steel Nebraska, a bar mill plant specializing in merchant and special bar-quality steel. His undergraduate research centered on a high-strength steel casting project on carbide growth and homogenization, a yearlong project that was submitted as two technical papers during AISTech.

Tyler served as president of his school’s Materials and Manufacturing Group (MMG), where his track record showed not just dedication and enthusiasm but also remarkable stamina: In addition to hosting monthly speakers from the manufacturing industry at meetings regularly attended by more than 40 student members and also attending local AFS and AIST chapter meetings, Tyler arranged for his fellow students to tour the facilities of both Lord Corp. and Arcelormittal, getting to observe industry operations first-hand. As of June, nearly 30 members of the MMG had secured internships or employment.

Now living in Nebraska and working full-time at Nucor, Tyler is considering furthering his education—likely with studies in metallurgy to support his work at the steel mill. As a recent graduate, he currently plans to stay in the workforce and see how much he can bring to the industry.


Katherine Robertson, Age: 27

Mobile Comply, Detroit, MI

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As a bona-fide member of the “millennial” generation, Katherine Robertson has found her niche as a recognized industry expert aiding automotive, defense and government entities in understanding the role millennials play in their emerging markets. While the transportation industry outwardly appears to be in great shape, a series of technology and workforce challenges are emerging with the potential to impact every aspect of the private, public and commercial transportation industry. As the executive vice president of Mobile Comply, Katherine champions millennials as the drivers of next-generation transportation systems. Advising on topics from buying power to the future impact on the workforce, she has enabled organizations to provide clear, consistent context and foster understanding and collaboration across industry and generational boundaries.

After being named a Corp! Most Valuable Millennial in 2016, she was presented the InformationWeek Elite 100 Under 30 “Pearl” Award, a recognition given to someone who exemplifies the professionalism and potential to make major contributions to IT. Katherine has used these opportunities to continue promoting intelligent transportation on the public stage, from radio interviews to on-stage speaking engagements.

Katherine’s leadership and organization was integral to the success of a program launched at the ITS America 2016 conference. The Mobile Comply initiative took a group of high school students from Michigan, partnered them with a group of students from an underprivileged school in San Jose, CA, and taught them to design and build 3D-printed car kits. At the ITS World Congress Montreal 2017, Katherine will be leading another student-centric initiative, building on the success of last year’s program but expanding it to the world stage.


Austin Schmidt, Age: 28

Additive Engineering Solutions LLC, Akron, OH

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As the co-founder and president of a global contract manufacturer, Austin Schmidt’s name might seem an obvious inclusion on this list—but he wasn’t behind just any company. Additive Engineering Solutions LLC offers large-scale additive manufacturing as a global contract service. Raising $1.5 million in debt financing, Austin developed numerous partnerships with leaders in large-scale additive manufacturing to make this company a reality.

His experience with 3D printing began at Caterpillar, where he spent five years in new product design, tooling, capital management and first-line supervision, as well as additive manufacturing. According to his nomination letter from Caterpillar’s Stacy DelVecchio, he quickly established himself as an “out of the box” thinker, often sketching out solutions to engineers’ problems as a way to help deploy additive manufacturing at Caterpillar.

His first year at Caterpillar was spent at the company’s Marine Center of Excellence and Greenville Engine Center, where learned the more strategic aspects of manufacturing leadership, successfully managing over $1.5 million in capital. In his second year, as a first-line supervisor at Caterpillar’s rotary drills facility, his team went over 280 days without a recordable injury—no small feat for someone fresh out of college. Next, Austin moved into new product manufacturing for track-type tractors and implemented several improvements in quality, velocity and cost at two different facilities.

Through his work at Caterpillar, he gradually became aware of the need for large-scale additive manufacturing as a contract service, which makes the technology available to a wider audience. Even after leaving Caterpillar to found AES, his colleagues remember him, according to DelVecchio, as “an accomplished and fearless technical and business leader.”


Kevin Simon, Age: 27

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

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Kevin Simon is someone to watch in the world of efficient, sustainable manufacturing. A doctoral candidate at MIT, his knowledge of physics and manufacturing processes inform his design thinking. Still, noted Dr. Alexander Slocum in his nomination letter, it is Kevin’s ability to identify and solve meaningful problems across disciplines that sets him apart.

The focus on “problems with impact” has been a defining characteristic of Kevin’s career at MIT. For his M.S., he co-developed a low-cost centrifugal pump, which allowed India-based startup Khethworks to scale their manufacturing. The pump is twice as efficient as any other pump at its price point, due to the low-cost/high-precision parts designed into the device. Currently, as the focus of his doctoral research, he is developing an even more efficient positive displacement pump, utilizing a low-cost manufacturing process. The pump is designed to meet the needs of marginal farmers in developing countries.

Kevin also assists Slocum with “hobby” projects, which have included designing and remotely running an experiment in India that utilized plastic PET bottles, floating on the surface of irrigation ponds, to cut evaporation losses by up to 40 percent. He also helped solve a problem in a sheet-metal design by Slocum that can be stamped for a curved battery container that is five times stronger than a conventional rectangular box of the same weight. Kevin was able to create a closed form expression for the container, which will enable engineers to use a simple spreadsheet to design a shape with remarkable structural properties.

Because of MIT’s reputation for innovation, it takes a truly remarkable mind to stand out. According to Slocum, “Kevin continues to collaborate and invent with an emphasis on manufacturing and purpose.”


Jesse Trinque, Age: 29

CNC Software Inc., Tolland, CT

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Jesse Trinque has a reputation. As an applications engineer at CNC Software Inc., customers, resellers and vendors ask for him by name, trusting his drive and dedication (as well as his technical skills) to resolve any issue they might be facing. Still, to anyone looking at his history in manufacturing, this would come as little surprise.

As a freshman at Windham Regional Vocational Technical High School (Willimantic, CT), he learned and subsequently ran the carpentry shop’s newly-acquired CNC router. Working in commercial construction gave Jesse an increased appreciation for the climate-controlled environment and the more mentally than physically demanding tasks manufacturing offered, and after graduating as his high school’s valedictorian, he earned his mechanical engineering degree at the University of Connecticut as a New England and Presidential Scholar, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2010. After interning for two years at a Tier 2 aerospace supplier, Jesse landed a job at a US government military research lab before being recruited to work on CNC Software’s flagship Mastercam software product. His fast, accurate work, coupled with his love and knowledge of cars, quickly made him popular with clients like Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush-Yates Engines, and has aided him in his work as a mentor with the Central Connecticut State University’s Formula SAE auto racing team.

“Jesse dazzles us with his speed and accuracy in getting tasks accomplished,” said CNC Software’s Graham Hargreaves in his nomination letter. “He’s a clear, organized and engaging presenter and trainer. He takes the fear out of learning something that is complex. Jesse makes learning Mastercam fun and is quick to have his studentswhether from a three-person shop or a Fortune 500 companyhave immediate success and comfort with the program, building their confidence.


Ryan Van Deest, Age: 28

Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, IL

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Despite having been with Caterpillar Inc. for just 18 months, Ryan Van Deest has already made an impression. Bringing with him not only an engineering degree, but also nearly five years’ experience at Blue Point Engineering, he has wasted no time expanding on his existing skills.

An expert in additive manufacturing, Ryan’s experience pulls from the process side as well as quality and design, making him a major contributor to the efficiency of operations at Caterpillar’s Additive Manufacturing Factory, where he serves as the lead quality operations engineer. Utilizing the extensive network of manufacturing engineers at Caterpillar, he was able to determine the best way to implement statistical process control (SPC) with a process that works for small orders, typically fewer than 10 parts at a time. He has also brought the company’s Additive Manufacturing Factory up to ISO standards, which is useful whenever customer needs require the facility to attain certification.

“It’s possible to find experts in process and quality for additive manufacturing, but few will also have deep knowledge in design,” wrote Caterpillar’s Stacy DelVecchio in her nomination letter. “Ryan frequently works with other design engineers at Caterpillar to educate them in the capabilities of additive manufacturing and to assist them in their designs.”


Erin Winick, Age: 22

Sci Chic, Gainesville, FL

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During her junior year in college, Erin Winick had an idea. Unlike many who have ideas during their junior year, Erin’s combination of technical ability, conceptual understanding and personal drive resulted in an innovative new tech company, called Sci Chic. Built on Erin’s passion for additive manufacturing and K-12 outreach, Sci Chic creates 3D-printed, STEM-related fashion products that explain the STEM concepts they represent. To date, she has sold over $14,000 worth of product and has expanded her line to over 70 items, all including educational resources. She has collaborated with women in STEM from around the world on designs from their areas of expertise, and has brought together STEM organizations, science communicators, engineers, journalists and museums in support of her company’s mission. Erin has been featured in CNNMoney, The Daily Dot and StarTalk National Geographic.

And all this does not include the more conventional manufacturing career she has maintained concurrently. As a student at the University of Florida, she was active in the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, and her leadership and academic prowess earned her internships at John Deere, Keysight Technologies, Bracken Manufacturing and Solar Turbines Inc., with her technical mentor at the latter describing her as “a major asset” and “management material.”

“Erin is a renaissance woman who continuously strives for greatness in engineering, her company’s mission, and life in general,” said Catherine A. Tradd, taxonomy business process lead at Solar Turbines and a previous 30 Under 30 honoree, adding that during her internship, Erin “grew and accomplished more professionally and technically in 12 weeks than I have seen some full-time engineers achieve in a year.”

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