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Anna Kretzschmar

It has been proven time and again by countless female role models that gender is not a limiting factor when it comes to what you can achieve in engineering, or in any field for that matter.

Anna was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, and first became interested in science and engineering when she visited Science North and Lake Laurentian in elementary school. She was very involved with her student council in high school and played on many athletic teams. From grade 11 to grade 12 Anna served as Student Trustee of the Rainbow District School Board and represented the voice of 17,000 students in the Sudbury region. She also represented students registered at english public school boards throughout Ontario, having served on the English Public Board Council of the Ontario Student Trustees Association for two years.

Anna graduated from the University of Ottawa in 2012 with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. She began her post secondary education in the General Social Science program, but decided to switch to engineering after one year. During the summer of 2011, Anna lived in Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany, where she completed the International Research Experience Program at the Technical University of Darmstadt. She studied the corrosion effects of two different types of flowing coolant on an aluminum alloy in an experiment that simulated the combustion in an automotive engine. She based her undergraduate thesis on these experiments.

During her final semester of studies at the University of Ottawa, Anna worked as part of a three-student team and designed a hybrid transmission system for a recreational hybrid scooter. It was this design experience that sparked Anna’s interest in the automotive industry. She hopes to someday have the opportunity to work in the German automotive industry in particular.

Anna worked for a construction company on an oil field in Northern Alberta for 7 months in 2013 before returning to Ontario to pursue a career in mechanical design. She began working as a Junior Mechanical Design Engineer for Penguin Automated Systems Inc. in Sudbury, Ontario, in February of 2014.

In her spare time, Anna likes to ski, cook, travel, listen to classical music, and play soccer. She tries to improve her German language skills whenever she can.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself, what is your current job?

I am a Junior Mechanical Design Engineer for Penguin Automated Systems Inc. (Penguin ASI) in Sudbury, Ontario. This company designs and manufactures tele-operated robots to carry out complex and hazardous tasks for mining, underwater, and sewer system applications.

What made you want to pursue a career in engineering?

Having watched many episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy growing up, I have always had an interest in science and in learning about the world around me. I don’t think I really understood exactly what role engineers played in the world when I first began my degree. I knew that I loved to take broken things apart around the house and enjoyed the challenge of fixing them and putting them back together.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part about my job is the positive environment that I work in. Every fellow employee that I have spoken with at Penguin has good things to say about the projects that they are working on. There is a passion for problem solving that is shared by everyone who I work with. There are frequent design meetings with all Penguin ASI employees, where everyone is encouraged to brainstorm solutions to problems that our robots encounter. Penguin Automated Systems has technology that is more advanced than many competitors, and it is gaining a lot of attention locally, nationally and internationally. I think that a lot of Penguin’s success has to do with the happiness of its employees and the pride that everyone has in the company.

How do you celebrate National Engineering Month?

I celebrate by reading up on current technology, and by exploring other engineering fields. Mechanical is my favourite stream, but I think that it is important to gain as much knowledge on other types of engineering as possible in order to be a good designer.

What advice do you have for young women who hope to pursue a career in your field?

My advice for young women in my field is to never be intimidated by the fact that engineering is still very much a male-dominated field. It has been proven time and again by countless female role models that gender is not a limiting factor when it comes to what you can achieve in engineering, or in any field for that matter.

My advice for both young women and young men who hope to pursue a career in engineering would be to remember that there is a solution out there to every problem. We are lucky to live in a day and age where useful information is everywhere – you just have to figure out what you are looking for. By reading, observing, and not being afraid to ask questions, you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve!

How would you describe the relationship with your mentor/mentee?

I have been fortunate to have several mentors throughout both my education and my career so far. I think that it is always good to find a mentor who has been in a similar situation so that it is easier for them to relate and to offer good advice.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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