National Engineers Week: Why Supply Chain & Logistics?
In celebration of National Engineers Week – annual recognition of the importance of math, science, and technical skills – Bastian Solutions talked to three of its engineers to understand how they came to be an engineer, their experiences in the field, and how the supply chain industry has changed in the last year.
Jason Tenorio, Director of Consulting, has more than 30 years’ experience in engineering and 15 years in consulting. Marcus Peck is a Project Manager in Greenfield, Indiana with about 10 years’ experience as an engineer, four at Bastian Solutions. Amelia Grace is a Systems Project Engineer and recent University of Illinois mechanical engineering graduate.
“We are at the epicenter of solving customer problems, automation, and material flow. Really addressing shortages as it relates to labor, space, and time,” says Jason Tenorio.
Q: What attracted you to engineering?
Jason - That’s easy. I love solving problems. As a kid I liked to take everything apart. Most of the time all the pieces found its way back together, but I just had this desire growing up to see how things work, to try to understand what made it work, and how it assembled together. As a kid I loved to watch the show How It’s Made and watch the processes to really see how things unfold.
Marcus - Basically, engineering chose me. From an early age I was always tinkering with things and taking apart appliances just to understand how things work and function. My mom didn’t necessarily always enjoy that. She knew at a very early age that I have that kind of engineering mindset.
Amelia - Initially, I thought I wanted to do physics instead of engineering but because I really liked seeing the practical realizations of some of the abstract principles that I enjoy in physics – engineering is really for me. I really like to see practical solutions and the hands-on applications of things. That’s what I really like about this job – seeing systems come to life.
Q: What does an average day in the life of a Bastian Solutions’ engineer look like?
Jason – The average day in the life an engineer at Bastian is jam-packed full of solving problems. We’re involved in every different vertical and everything from manufacturing and assembly through distribution centers and design. We’re involved with studying, analyzing, implementing and designing changes for our customers. Every day.
Amelia – It’s full of communication. Whether we’re discussing a potential opportunity with one of our vendors, reviewing a design internally or presenting our solution externally to a client. We really need to understand what the best way to present an idea in each of those contexts. That has been one of the most nuanced and interesting things for me to learn during my time here.
Q: The pandemic has changed a lot of different aspects of our lives. What has been the most surprising learning in the last year?
Marcus – You would think that with the global pandemic that things would slow down and come to a halt but with engineering, technology, and automation, more companies were already starting to shift towards automation. Our industry took-off because we are delivering turnkey systems that they can implement now. There’s a huge demand for that. With social distancing we’ve had to strategize how we interact with each other, with our customers, with the different functional groups within my main manufacturing facility. We have to be very creative to communicate and express our ideas, to still be able to have that smooth flow within our project lifecycles. We’ve overcome for sure. We’re still expanding and we’re still growing.
Amelia – It’s been really surprising how quickly all of these businesses have pivoted to ecommerce and online fulfillment, and of course that has created a lot of work for us. But it has also led us to consider a lot of interesting and innovative solutions.
Q: How has being an engineer helped you throughout your career as you’ve grown into new roles at Bastian Solutions?
Jason – As the director of consulting we’re working to solve customers’ problems on a daily basis. To do this we work with our engineers to think differently and think creatively. We provide them with guidance on how to approach different problems. We don’t tell them what to do, we show them and demonstrate different ways to creatively solve problems.
Marcus – One important thing to note is that in school you are learning how to learn so that when you do get into the field in your industry you truly know how to reference certain resources, how to truly take a problem and break it down systematically and be able to solve it. And also, how to work in teams, teamwork is huge within my role now. Knowing how to interface with different people, different groups and skillsets is huge and that’s something you begin to learn in college and carry through your career.
Q: As a recent engineering graduate, what stood out to you the most about this industry?
Amelia – As somebody coming into this industry, not knowing what to expect, and now designing these systems, I’ve been amazed how important conveyor and racking are. You take for granted their impact in your daily life. If you order something online or even in your grocery store, in the warehouse or in the back of the store, all of this equipment is right there. It’s been surprising to me how many facets of those items there are – the many, different types of conveyor and racking.
Q: Bastian Solutions encourages “Thinking Big” but what does that mean?
Jason - We are always looking for the next technologies to implement. We are always looking to build a better mouse trap. For example, how can we apply something we’ve done in pharma and apply it in the food industry or into ecommerce. Being able to “think big” means looking at how to apply these new technologies in different ways and in different areas.
Amelia – “We’ve always done it this way” isn’t a proper justification for a solution but also “we’ve never done it this way” isn’t a proper rebuttal of a solution. We’re always looking into the best way to execute a design. We’re always looking to see what the best technology is for a given application and that really goes along with our status as an independent integrator. Even on the small scale, just in the time I’ve been here, there have been a number of innovations on the engineering team and the tools we use. And, that’s been driven by the engineers themselves.
Q: What do you want to share with those exploring engineering as a career?
Jason – For someone coming into engineering, follow your passions. If you love problem solving and you love the day in and day out of challenges, problem solving, then go into engineering. Study up and get good foundational experience in engineering.
Amelia – I think the most useful mindset to have is not rejecting yourself from opportunities. Don’t be afraid to apply for an internship because you think you won’t get it, or you think you aren’t qualified. Let the recruiter decide that for you. As someone that didn’t know I wanted to do engineering, even though I’ve found that I’ve been a great fit for engineering and have really enjoyed the beginnings of my career, you shouldn’t limit yourself by what major you think you should be in. Explore your interests without boxing yourself in.
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