The Starset Society is reaching out to STEM professionals across the globe and asking them questions about their career fields and the technology used. TSS is showcasing the work done by electrical engineer, Ashley Mages.
Good morning, Ashley. Will you explain, please, what you do in your current position? What does that entail?
I work as an Electrical Automations Engineer. Our company designs systems to be installed at our customer’s industrial plants. I get to design electrical panels, program the systems to function, set up and troubleshoot the system.
How long have you worked in the engineering field?
I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Engineering five years ago and I have worked as an engineer since.
What industrial plants do you service? And how do these systems help those plants?
Our company works with power plants and manufacturing plants. We make systems to pneumatically convey material. So we have a stream of air in pipes that we introduce material into – moving it from one place to another.
When we work with power plants we set up a system to bring a substance (often hydrated lime) into their process. The lime reacts with the gases to mitigate sulphur oxide levels. When we work with manufacturing plants we utilize scales to measure the material that goes into a recipe for a product.
You received a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. What are some of the differences you’ve seen from school versus being in the work field?
There are a lot of differences from school to industry. I like to think of school as proving that you have what it takes. There are so many different fields of engineering; school is a taste of some of the most common paths and a foundational understanding. The most applicable part of school is the strengthening of problem solving and critical thinking skills, but almost all of what I do has been learned on the job.
What parts of a project do you most enjoy?
My favorite part of a project is the debug portion. I get to work directly with the system, and whether it is in the code or the physical instruments, I have a puzzle to figure out and find a solution to find. At times it is very frustrating and some days everything seems to go wrong, but I just stay focused on finding a solution.
Have you noticed a change in the way technology has been used for your job? Has technology provided more solutions or created more problems?
More solutions are created from technology. Things like remotely accessing systems allow for faster and less costly solutions. Things become more possible, efficient and easier with more tools.
Do you have any advice for future engineers or individuals interested in your field?
Find an internship as soon as you can. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something, you might get the chance to learn even more. It’s okay to not know everything.