Events and Awards

2021 Engineering Leader Under 40: Sam Russem, 34

Sam Russem, 34. Director, Smart Manufacturing, Grantek Systems Integration Allentown, PA, United States. BS Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania.

By CFE Media September 8, 2021
Sam Russem, 34 Director, Smart Manufacturing Grantek Systems Integration

Sam Russem, 34
Director, Smart Manufacturing
Grantek Systems Integration
Allentown, PA, United States
BS Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

Why should this person be recognized for this award?

As Grantek transitioned from a small to mid-size system integration company, we needed to build leadership around strategic areas of focus that could unite all facets of the company (sales, marketing, engineering, delivery, etc.) around specific industry solutions. This resulted in three strategic initiatives being formed, and Sam was our ideal candidate to lead our Smart Manufacturing Practice. Since taking on this role, his strategic initiative has set the standard for the other two to follow. He has become a true leader not only within Grantek, but also within the industry.

Achievements, Advancement & Career-related Industry Contributions

Sam started his career at Grantek in 2009 as a Systems engineer, mainly designing and deploying automation, controls, and SCADA projects. Sam’s skill, knowledge, and passion toward more advanced and complex systems led him to be promoted to Grantek’s Manufacturing IT Manager in 2014, where he led a team of Manufacturing IT and automation engineers in the scoping and delivery of over $10 million in Manufacturing IT projects, growing Grantek’s renewable energy project portfolio five times in 2.5 years. Sam’s success in leading a team to deliver some of Grantek’s most technically complex projects, landed him a position as Senior Project Manager. In 2018 an opportunity presented itself to leverage Sam’s engineering and project management experience to lead one of Grantek’s three Strategic Initiatives: Smart Manufacturing. In this role it is Sam’s responsibility to identify and develop the right solutions for our clients by working cross functionally across all departments of the company. By 2020 Sam doubled Grantek’s Smart Manufacturing revenue and established the company as a leader in the industry. Recognized for his knowledge and success, Sam was voted as the Chairman of the Americas Board for MESA International, one of the leading industry associations for Smart Manufacturing.

Non-work-related Activities & Hobbies

As we’ve all spent more time at home over the past year, Sam has taken advantage of that time to explore his passion for gardening. He spends many of his afternoons and weekends tending to his porch-garden in South Philadelphia and ever-expanding collection of indoor plants. It has been a great way to spend time outside and away from screens.

Interesting Details

  • Sam’s passion for “programming for the physical world” started in with his work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kod*lab (https://kodlab.seas.upenn.edu/); where he worked on designing navigation systems, fabricating hundreds of legs for the RHex hexapedal robot, and as a teaching assistant for undergraduate robotics classes.
  • Sam has also developed a reputation at Grantek around his love for “excessively nerdy board games,” with Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars, and Scythe being some of his favorites. Be prepared to watch a 30-minute mandatory rules video before any game night he has organized.

Why did they choose this career?

When most people think of technology, software, and engineering today they tend think of big tech companies and hot apps, and in doing so they miss out on huge opportunities to impact the world. Smart Manufacturing can lead us towards more innovative products, better jobs, an improved quality of life, and a more sustainable planet; and we need talented and motivated young engineers to help us realize that vision.


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.