Anna Powers is the newest mechanical engineer at Linton Crystal Technologies, having joined the company in February. It’s a job you could say she was designed for.
As a middle school student, Anna took her first class in CAD (computer-aided design). Not only did she quickly understand the material, but she was particularly drawn to the process. When the opportunity came up in high school, then, to pursue engineering-based courses that could earn her college credit, she jumped at it. Anna took the Design and Drafting for Production class in freshman year as part of a program called, Project Lead the Way (PLTW), an initiative to provide hands-on, real-world engineering experiences.
“My teacher saw that I was finishing projects quickly, so he kept finding extra for me to do,” says Anna. “I just liked it and was good at it, so got through the work faster than others.”
She continued to take the PLTW courses throughout high school, earning credits from Rochester Institute of Technology in the process. In four years of PLTW coursework, Anna was one of only three women participating in the program from her entire school. She was the only one in her grade level.
“I appreciated my teachers at the time, who recognized that I was moving more quickly through the material and knew how serious I was about learning it. It was important to me that I was able to have that strong learning experience without being singled out or treated differently because of who I am,” she explains.
By the time she was a senior, she knew she enjoyed learning engineering principles and had a skill for it so decided to pursue a degree in the field. When choosing an engineering discipline and major, Anna appreciated that mechanical engineering was one of the more balanced. She chose to attend RIT for the institution’s strong cooperative program with regional industries and, as a bonus, it was only about an hour from her home in Buffalo. While a student, she completed design and operations internships with Avox Oxygen Systems, and a mechanical design internship with PPC, a Belden Brand, where she designed and updated 2D and 3D models. Avox hired her as a design engineer upon graduation and she remained there until joining Linton, working on developing custom products.
At RIT, she found a more equal gender ratio in her classes, particularly those dedicated specifically to mechanical engineering, where there was about a 40:60 women-to-men ratio by senior year. She also found more opportunities than ever to pursue her passion for CAD.
“I liked that I could see a part in CAD in 2D and make it 3D, or vice versa. The fact that I was good at it and picked it up so easily gave me the opportunity to do more with modeling, and to then incorporate 3D printing, which has so much potential,” says Anna. “I continued to learn and grow with CAD throughout college and wanted to dedicate my entire career to working with CAD. That’s what was so appealing about the mechanical engineering job with Linton. I’d have the opportunity to do much more in CAD than I’d done anywhere else.”
At Linton, Anna is working on projects pertaining to existing Linton growers and will move into some research and development of new products. Her experience in CAD and customization makes her well-suited to the work at Linton, where every grower is customized for the customer.