Community Spotlights are special features to introduce you to the amazing folks transforming manufacturing as part of the Tulip Community.

Meet Our Community Spotlight

Meet Abigail Tingley, a Development Manufacturing Engineer who has a passion for creative problem-solving, an eagerness to always learn new things, and a human-centric approach focused on serving the operators on the shop floor.

Abigail didn’t always know that she wanted to be an engineer. However, her first physics class ignited her passion for applying math to real-world problems, transforming her initial interest in math and piquing her interest in engineering. She started out studying Mechanical Engineering at Penn State Behrend, but found it too theoretical and switched to Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies and Project & Supply Chain Management.

I heard about this relatively new program and I thought it's perfect. You kind of get the best of both worlds (engineering and business) and I got to learn how to connect them. I figured it would make me a more well-rounded engineer to be able to understand both sides and how different teams come together.

She got into manufacturing through her internships with AirBorn, a manufacturer of high-reliability electronic components, connectors, and cable assemblies for various industries including aerospace, defense, and medical, while she was still a student. She started in a more traditional process engineering role, got some experience with automation, and then landed an opportunity to work on AirBorn’s Digital Factory Initiative.

A Day in the Life

Describing her day to day work, Abigail says “I have a couple projects that are on the (shop) floor, some different product lines or parts of a product line that I'm responsible for and making sure they keep running, which we all know, it doesn't matter what you do, you're always gonna have some firefighting. (For the) Digital Factory department, it is fairly new, so I am working a lot on what our rollout is going to look like, and figuring out how we will deploy Tulip in our processes. I also do a lot of getting our new Tulip users set up, training them and helping them learn.”

When asked her favorite aspects of her work, she says there are two things that fulfill her the most: “Getting to solve challenges that the company has been facing for a period of time that either don't have a solution or need an updated solution and kind of having the creativity to do something new whether it be with Tulip or something else. That's something that I really look forward to.” She also loves working with the shop floor and “seeing how excited the operators get when you're pushing something new to the floor and they see the interface and they get excited …and getting their involvement and their feedback and then turning around and saying okay this part of what I made isn't gonna work for the operators, let's go and change it and make it work… I find it really fulfilling.”

It is not surprising that this passion for solving unique and challenging problems and a human-first approach led her to receiving the AirBorn Innovation of the Year Award for her work. Jokes aside that she has set the bar too high early in her career after receiving the award, Abigail has tackled an impressive variety of opportunities with Tulip. From building work instructions that help error proof operations through data validation and built in quality control, equipment integrations, streamlining new operator training with simpler digital tools for complex processes, and robot integrations that enhance operator safety, she has learned how to look around the shop floor and see opportunities for new Tulip applications, embracing a spirit of continuous improvement.

One of the new use cases that's been in production for a little bit in another plant…we have lot of tribal knowledge, but now we've 'Tulipized' it for lack of a better term and we have a lot of automated data collection and we're able to look at build times and who was building it and that's been a really big one for training people that are new to those build, which has been great. Especially for training, because it's a more complex build process, so having new people come in and being able to kind of hit the ground running, that has been great. It’s been going really well.

What's Next for Abigail?

“I would really like to get into some sort of leadership or management role, but I never want to lose the hands-on (work of the shop floor) and I know that's a really hard balance to find, but I'd like to try to figure it out…. And I would like to, at some point, keep moving forward with my education and get my masters. Penn State Behrend actually has a Manufacturing Management Masters, so I think I want to go back for that at some point once I'm done recovering from my bachelor's degree.”

Abigail is also motivated to inspire and mentor other women in STEM and believes in the importance of representation in the industry. “Being a woman in STEM, I want to be that representation, to lead by example and get more women in leadership. I've been really fortunate at AirBorn. I have some really really great role models here that are women in leadership and they've been mentoring me and kind of keeping me under their wings. So I've been fortunate enough to have those role models and be inspired by them. So I guess I just want to inspire others.”

Abigail's advice to others getting started in manufacturing is to never be afraid to ask questions and seek understanding. “Just ask a lot of questions... you're never going to understand everything up front. I feel like there have been a few times on my journey within the last two years where I'm a part of a conversation and they're talking about something and I feel like I should know this and I'm gonna be embarrassed if I ask because they may think I don't know what I'm doing. I realized that was ridiculous because I just ended up stumbling for a little bit and then having to go back and ask the question anyway and at no point was I made to feel stupid. Nobody expects you to get it, even two years in, much less six months into the role!”

She also emphasizes the importance of recognizing and valuing the contributions of all members of the team and always learning and adapting in a constantly evolving industry.

Ask the operators (on the shop floor) questions. Talk to the people that are actually out there doing this to really get as much of an understanding and a grasp on the manufacturing processes as you can and to learn.

Want to hear more from Abigail?

Join us on Tulip's Community for an Ask Me Anything to learn more about Abigail's career journey and what's next for her.

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