Meiling He wanted to work for a company with a great reputation that would allow her to bring two worlds together: engineering and data science. She’s fascinated by intelligent manufacturing and big data analysis – areas awash with opportunities, especially for someone who wants to help advance Industry 4.0 and create solutions worthy of industrial patents.
Great Teams Create Great Work
Meiling wasn’t sure she’d find a company that would allow her to do it all. When she landed at Rockwell, she was delighted to realize that she’d get a chance to practice her skills in machine learning, scheduling optimization, signal processing, simulation, programming, team building and leadership.
“This was my first job out of college, and I’ve learned about collaboration and how important it is to make contributions as a team,” Meiling shared. “Great teams create great work.”
On the job, Meiling sometimes leads and sometimes follows.
“That’s part of being a good team, learning when to take the reins and when to be a strong supporting player,” Meiling said. “My desire to discover and the research skills gained through my Ph.D. training have made me a fast and effective learner. This company has the culture that allows me to become good at whatever I want to do.”
First Industrial Patent: Condition Monitoring Technique
Every day, Meiling uses creativity as a catalyst, and relies on experimentation and risk-taking to confidently champion new ways of doing things.
That approach already has resulted in her first patent: a new machine-learning-based condition monitoring technique that analyzes data from motor drives to predict common faults, such as broken rotor bars and stator winding failures, before they occur. This allows maintenance to be scheduled and carried out when it's convenient, avoiding potentially dangerous failures and costly downtime. The technique also works without requiring sensors, wiring or data collection devices external to the drive, making it inexpensive to implement.
Before working on the patented project, Meiling didn’t know much about motor condition monitoring. She read dozens of books and hundreds of technical papers, watched more than 50 videos, and got field knowledge support from onsite engineers. Applying what she had learned, she then created and validated the innovative condition monitoring technology.
“This is my first patent, and I really appreciate the team and the principal engineer, Robert Miklosovic, who supported me,” said Meiling. “Their encouragement motivated me to go above the beyond. My company and my team give me opportunities to be an independent thinker and spend time investigating interesting ideas to improve our products.”
This year, with her rotational manager, she developed supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithm auto-selection tools to detect various anomalous behaviors in Smart Manufacturing. That work resulted in her second patent application with the team.
Mentors Make the Difference
Working with mentors, including numerous Ph.D.s, Meiling has been part of projects that expand what’s possible for manufacturers, by combining the best of industrial automation with the latest digital technology. She and her teams are creating solutions the automation world doesn’t yet know it needs.
“My mentors and managers are rigorous, encouraging, and proficient with technologies,” Meiling said. “They point me to the right people to ask questions and help me connect industry’s brightest engineers. With their help I’ve expanded my network with people who know everything about their focus area yet are some of the most humble people I have ever known.”
Be Ready to Grow and Learn
For people who want to succeed in this career path, Meiling has advice: “Have a growth mindset and be willing to work on projects in which you don’t have a strong background – that is where you start to grow and learn. Be passionate about learning and understand how to reach out for help.”
“Working hard and getting meaningful work done makes me feel grateful and fulfilled,” added Meiling. “I am working at Rockwell while pursuing my Ph.D., and those two roles complement each other. Doing research at school requires me to think creatively and build something new and constructive. Working at Rockwell has given me an opportunity to integrate constructive ideas into real-world products and processes, and to understand what tools are the most critical to customers.”