Women in Engineering: What’s been your greatest thrill as an engineer?

“I’ve had the opportunity to present engineering ideas to leaders within the company. It has challenged me to develop the ideas in a clear and concise manner, which I believe has made me into a successful engineer.”

By Plant Engineering September 25, 2018

Hilary Schmidt

At Victaulic, I’ve had the opportunity to present engineering ideas to leaders within the company. It has challenged me to develop the ideas in a clear and concise manner, which I believe has made me into a successful engineer. This has improved my presentation and communication skills, which are crucial but not always associated with engineering. You can have the best idea for your company, but it’s not worth anything if you can’t communicate that idea. This skill will prove to be extremely beneficial as I move forward in my career.

Catsy Lam

Recently, I wrote a white paper on corrosion resistance after an experience with a new customer. The customer had been looking to create a new product to join piping systems underground and was concerned that other materials would corrode. To solve this issue, I had to ramp up on industry standards so that I could classify soils to determine if Victaulic’s HDPE product could be used without corroding. This concept was brand new to Victaulic, but because of Victaulic’s determination and resources, we successfully showed the client why our solution would work and was their best option.

Another achievement I’m proud of is my work with gasket materials analysis. A customer once came to us because they did not like the performance of their EPDM gaskets sourced by one of our competitors-the material they had chosen was not as reliable as they had hoped. Our team performed a side-by-side design analysis of Victaulic’s and our competitor’s solutions proving to the client that Victaulic’s gasket materials would solve their problem. What made this experience challenging was when the client requested us to recreate the gasket in the same manner. This was, of course, interesting to navigate, as we had to explain to their materials experts that what they wanted would not work and show that we were the best option through data and analysis.Last, I am extremely excited about developing the proprietary fire-resistant gasket material for maritime and oil & gas markets. The custom-formulated nitrile gasket material, being the "heart of the joint," is compatible with flammable liquids that are commonly used in pipelines and it is capable of ensuring the highest degree of sealing during 1200-1400F fires for 30 minutes without affecting joint integrity. The gasket is DNV and LR approved, and it also met API (American Petroleum Institute) 607 requirements.

Melissa Gannon

A recent solution we came up with for a hospital in North Carolina with an older HVAC system was a major achievement. We resolved a challenge by replacing the entire system and they trained their teams to install the product. Overall, the system helped reduce cost and allowed for a product that is easy to maintain, repair, and is more cost-effective. It was rewarding because it wasn’t a typical project and we had the opportunity to teach our customer along the way.

Katie Yovanovich

Victaulic’s Innovative Groove System (IGS) line has been the most exciting project that I’ve worked on thus far. We were able to develop a new grooving system for 1-inch pipe in the fire protection industry. Revamping a system that had not changed in 100 years and introducing a product that builds systems quicker and cleaner was such an invaluable experience. I was able to travel to places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise, and it was very rewarding to be able to meet customers that are able to work more efficiently because of this new system.

Paulina Olesinska

In many ways, I would say my entire career is my greatest success story. My current role is the apex of everything I have worked on up to this point in my career. My career at Victaulic has provided me the opportunity to pursue my second master’s degree (an MBA at NYU). One notable achievement has been the opportunity to author two patents. However, something I do take much pride in is mentorship. I have had the opportunity to mentor three interns, which has been most rewarding, as I’ve been able to see them grow more confident and skilled.

Michelle Zboray

My greatest thrill has been able to combine business and industrial engineering knowledge in the role of materials management. I enjoy seeing how engineering principles and problem solving can be applied outside of the traditional scope.