[Portrait] Women in Manufacturing – Jo Ann Mitchell
Posted by Bert Maes on August 12, 2009
Women can make a real difference in manufacturing. Today, there is nothing more relevant for our society than making things, creating technology, with a female eye for detail.
Jo Ann Mitchell is a woman forging a career in the male-dominated world of machine tools, working as a Machine Investment Support Specialist for world-leading tooling company and Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) program partner, Sandvik Coromant.
As well as her day-to-day responsibilities, Jo Ann’s role gives her the opportunity to work with the local HTEC in Allendale, New Jersey, USA: an involvement with grass-roots engineering education that she relishes and speaks about with a passion.
“Being involved with the HTEC program and sharing its commitment to the success of precision engineering students is very gratifying,” she says. “It gives me huge, personal and professional satisfaction that Sandvik is an HTEC partner and that I’m able to see students developing problem solving skills in both theoretical and also practical situations.” Before working for Sandvik, Jo Ann worked as a teacher so education is a subject that is close to her heart.
In addition to holding down a full-time career, Jo Ann is also studying for an MBA and recently submitted a course-work paper entitled Doing Well by Doing Good: an examination of the Haas HTEC network and its positive benefits both to the California based machine tool builder and also to participating students.
“The MBA assignment was to present a company that – while profit motivated – creates something for the general good, or for a particular segment of society,” she explains. “Several of us at Sandvik Coromant had been working with the HTECs prior to this assignment and the chance to address the value of technical education to the student and the sponsoring company seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.” Jo Ann’s enthusiasm for the subject matter obviously shone through: her submission gained her an A-grade and very favorable comments from her tutors.
Jo Ann’s parents worked in industry, which meant choosing a career in precision engineering seemed very natural. “There was a time when generally, women were not encouraged to pursue science or engineering as careers,” she says. “ I was very fortunate to have very technically minded parents. They encouraged my curiosity and helped with my kitchen-table experiments! When I was very small, my family went to the World’s Fair in New York where I spent time watching a chemical engineer make nylon out of materials poured from two test tubes. I have been fascinated by how things are made ever since”
There is no doubt that Jo Ann’s experience in machine tool technology and in education, both as a student and an educator, makes her a perfect mentor for other up and coming HTEC students.
“Engineering allows you to problem solve with some of the most innovative and smartest people on the planet.” She says, “This has been my experience since childhood, but not everyone is so lucky. That’s why I enjoy working with the HTEC program. It gives me the chance to share some of my experiences with up-and-coming students”