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Raising the Profile of Women in Engineering - An interview with Becky Tharp

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Raising the Profile of Women in Engineering

An interview with Becky Tharp, Process Engineer at AMETEK Specialty Metal Products (SMP) in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania. We asked Becky what it is like working in a highly industrial environment with world-class water atomization technology and how she came to choose this career in an ever-changing engineering environment.

Q. What attracted you to a career in engineering?

I have always been interested in engineering. In school I always enjoyed math and science and was good at it. It gave me great satisfaction solving a problem and identifying the right answer. This then inspired me to consider engineering as a career path, coupled with the fact that I am very competitive. Now that I work in the sector, I am more than pleased that I pursued my engineering studies. I find the work extremely rewarding.

What does your job as a process engineer involve?

My day-to-day duties can vary greatly. My first priority every day is to make sure we get high quality product out the door while operating safely. I run through the daily production schedule with the operations team and production planner to ensure the current jobs are processing smoothly and go over any issues we may have at that time. I check on job status in the lab and examine process parameters to gauge how a job is going and determine if any tweaks to the process need to be made, some specific product parameters include: Chemistry, Particle Size Distribution, Apparent Density, Flow Rate, Green Properties, Sintered Properties and others. Also, I often work with customers on product development or to help problem solve any issues that may arise in their process.

I work on process improvement projects which can involve taking samples from production lines for investigation internally or for a project, or working with the operators on the melt decks to coordinate major capital projects. I also write instructions for atomizing parameters for the melt decks and other atomizing machinery. Overall, in my role I support a large array of functional groups, from planning and executing major process improvements to operational savings throughout the plant. All in all, I help to keep the department running as smoothly as possible.

Q. What does the facility of AMETEK Specialty Metal Products at Eighty Four manufacture and what is it like working there?

AMETEK Specialty Metal Products is a global leader in the manufacture of water-atomized specialty metal powders, stainless steel flake and high-performance roll bonded clad metal plate. We’re based in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, USA and are one of five business units that make up the wider Specialty Metals division of AMETEK Inc. It’s a great place to work if you are interested in working with world-class water atomization technology. It is a very industrial environment in the steel industry which means heat, sparks and fire - quite spectacular to watch. Our high-purity metal powders are used in many critical applications, including powder metallurgy and Metal Injection Moulding for making parts for example in the automotive industry, polyester and filter production for the textile and medical industries as well as a metal additive for detectable plastics that are used for example in food processing and packaging.

Q. What is your favourite part of the job?

The best thing about working at AMETEK SMP is that there is never a dull moment. There is always something new going on, whether it be a new product being introduced or a new challenge that we are facing on the operational side of things. Like I said before, my day can vary greatly, and that is what I love about my job. I am never bored for sure!

What’s getting me excited about coming into work every day is when you can actually see the atomization happening right before your eyes, as the product begins to take shape. It’s pretty cool to see the science working in real time and knowing that I am part of the process.

Q. Would you recommend engineering as a good career choice for women?

Absolutely. I’d recommend it to anyone, in fact! There is always something exciting going on with interesting challenges to overcome and processes to improve.

For women wanting to enter engineering, being part of an ever-changing environment is a very exciting aspect of the job. We get to play an active part in the development of some highly sophisticated processes and technological advancements. We help move the industry towards ever more ambitious targets, achievements and innovations. It is immensely rewarding to be involved in engineering, for any woman who interested in pursuing a challenging, exciting and above all, satisfying career.