[Portrait] Women in Manufacturing – Melanie Cattaruzza
Posted by Bert Maes on August 14, 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.
Since August 2007 trainee service engineer Melanie Cattaruzza has been working at Urma AG – Switzerland’s Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) – while she simultaneously pursues formal studies in mechanical engineering.
Melanie’s day-to-day activities complement her education and also expose her to a wide variety of tasks and training that are helping her learn about an industry that, she says, she has grown to love.
“My daily routine usually starts with the documenting of coolant lubricants in all of the machines,” says Melanie. “I will then either be doing CNC milling, turning or drilling work-pieces based on blueprints I am given. It varies every day.”
Melanie is in her 2nd year of a 4-year mechanical engineering course and takes one day out of each week to attend her classes. Throughout every step of the program, Urma supports her training, and the company managers mentor her and eight of her colleagues. “What we cover on the course is pretty extensive”, she explains. “I have to produce many work pieces from the Urma production program and each one has to demonstrate a knowledge of materials, programming, production planning, manufacturing and quality control.”
“After passing her intermediate examination in June 2009, Melanie is looking ahead. She says, “Next, I would like to continue my training in CNC mechanical engineering.”
Urma has an attractive manufacturing training program, so I have lots of opportunities to develop my skills further. My goal is to work for the Haas Factory Outlet in a service technician role. Or, I may take my career further in the direction of general manufacturing.”
Traditionally, the machine-tool industry has been a male-dominated environment, but times are changing as more young women like Melanie discover that oily workshops and outdated technology are things of the past. “I always wanted to work with machines,” Melanie explains. “When I was very young I liked to tinker around with motorbikes, with my older brothers. I wasn’t interested in playing with dolls. I became curious about how parts were manufactured and it was this that ultimately led me to enroll in the introductory course at HFO Urma.”
When she isn’t at work, Melanie still indulges her love of two-wheels by competing in Supermoto street races on a 250cc, CCM motorcycle. Whilst her choice of career and past-time may not be typical for a young woman, Melanie says her friends and family are very supportive. “It’s cool being a woman and taking part in what many regard as men-only activities,” she says. “People are often surprised at my choices, but when they get to know me they can see how much I love what I do.”
For other women interested in getting a start in precision engineering and the CNC machine tool industry there are multiple paths to choose from but Melanie has chosen one with formal training and the very latest technology at its core.
“I know that gaining a good educational foundation will help to make me a valuable employee”, she explains. Training with the very best technology will also pay dividends.