Events and Awards

2021 Engineering Leader Under 40: Michael Lehrich, 26

Automation Validation Engineer at Panacea Technologies, Montgomeryville, PA, United States, BS Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware

By CFE Media September 8, 2021
Michael Lehrich, 26, Automation Validation Engineer, Panacea Technologies Montgomeryville, PA, United States, BS Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware

Michael Lehrich, 26
Automation Validation Engineer
Panacea Technologies
Montgomeryville, PA, United States
BS Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware

Why should this person be recognized for this award?

Leaders become excellent leaders when they develop leaders themselves. Mike is a prime example of this rule and has already developed several other engineers imparting his distinct methodical approach to problem solving and translating client problems into engineered deliverables. Mike has mentored shows this capability by connecting with people, building credibility, and teaching in a way others cannot. Mike works hard, has overcome countless project adversities and has led the charge evaluating new technologies to better himself and his team.

Achievements, Advancement & Career-related Industry Contributions

Mike was placed on a difficult project for a client and had to add to the project team. He did excellent at onboarding and training the next generation of engineers, but several team members left the company for family emergencies and life events. He took this in stride and continued to develop more new engineers while juggling multiple deadlines. Mike also has led a company effort to evaluate IIoT platforms and edge devices using MQTT and other communication protocols. His efforts led to Panacea adopting a new philosophy on project deployment and cloud usage helping to nudge us towards cutting edge deployment methodologies. Most would be content to horde this knowledge for personal gain, but Mike trained other employees and clients on these platforms. It is also not uncommon to look out in the office and see Mike listening to others talk about project difficulties and eloquently injecting himself into the conversation to share his experiences and alternate routes to solve a problem. He leads from behind, within, and out front when necessary.

Non-work-related Activities & Hobbies

Soccer has been his favorite sport since he was five. Apart from it being an attempt to stay fit, soccer allows him to get away from the complexities of life and focus solely on a single goal: winning the game. Mike said: “When on the field, it comes down to each player doing their part and working as a team. Over the years, soccer has been a great way for me to meet great coaches and make friends, many of whom I still keep in touch with. Soccer has always been a major part of my life.”

Interesting Details

  • Mike loves travelling and experiencing new places. He’s been to five continents so far and plans to visit the last two (Asia and Antarctica) in the near future.
  • He also loves learning new things, whether it’s new software at work, or random facts that may come up as a trivia question, although ironically, he’s very bad at trivia.

Why did they choose this career?

“The thing I like best about the automation field, especially as an integrator, is challenge and variation between projects. One project might be adding a valve using one software and then the next is designing a new skid from scratch in a totally different software. The flexibility and variety in projects, skids, software, hardware and coding styles allow for continual learning and growth no matter how long you’ve been in the field. A technique that worked well for one project may be entirely wrong for another, forcing you to step back and think outside of the box for a solution.”


CFE Media
Author Bio: Since its founding in 2010, CFE Media and Technology has provided engineers in manufacturing, commercial and industrial buildings, and manufacturing control systems with the knowledge they need to improve their operational efficiency. CFE delivers the right information at the right time around the world through a variety of platforms.