In our first-ever Women in Fluid Power podcast, Mary Gannon, Editor of Fluid Power World, chats with Céline Cabana, Technical Account Manager and Ashley Busquets, Simulation Engineer, with FD Groups America. The two women are leading the charge in building its parent company FluiDesign Group’s presence in North America. FD Groups specializes in the design and production of custom‐made hydraulic and electronic components.
Here, Céline and Ashley discuss their recent entrances into the fluid power industry, who inspired them to be engineers, and what women can bring to the table to users and manufacturers of fluid power technologies.
Below is a lightly edited transcript of this conversation:
Mary Gannon: Hello and welcome to Fluid Power World: Women and Food Power podcast series. Today, with our first podcast ever, we’re joined by Celine Cabana and Ashley Busquets from FD-Groups America. Celine is the technical account manager and Ashley is a simulation engineer there. I’m just going to go ahead and let them talk to you a little bit about who they are and what they do there at FD-GROUPS America.
Celine, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your history?
Celine Cabana: Yes, so I do have a Master’s in Industrial Engineering and Bachelor’s degree, engineering degree in Mechanical Engineer, and I did work for a while in the beginning of my career in the pulp and paper industry and then there was family and travel. When I came back to engineering, I came back to Fluid Power and since 2015 now, I’m Technical Account Manager in FD-GROUPS America and mainly trying to get lots of business for them. FD-GROUPS America do design and manufacture hydraulic valves mainly for hydrostatic transmission and we offer also a service of simulation, dynamic simulation. So those are mainly what we’re promoting in the U.S. and that’s where I am, and then we have Ashley with us and she’ll talk about herself.
Ashley Busquets: So I started, I did my Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. From there I went to Purdue. I was a grad student of Monika Ivantysynova. I did my Master’s as well in Mechanical Engineering and then I did my PhD there with her in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Both focused on hydraulics. Just recently, at the beginning of this year 2019 then I’ve started with FD-GROUPS America, I guess, on the American side, and I’ve been training a lot with engineers and friends and doing the dynamic simulation and learning a lot on that side as well.
Mary Gannon: Wonderful. Dr. Monika was a legend in the industry so I’m glad that she brought you into Fluid Power. I believe that you had said in the past that she kind of was one of the people that was influenced you into actually, you know, wanting to work in this industry.
Ashley Busquets: Yes, so I never had the idea of going into hydraulics. I was invited to tour Purdue as a graduate student and there I toured the Maha Lab and I met Monika and yes, she was very strong in the idea having females in the hydraulic world and it was very hard to say no to her before I started working with her and I guess haven’t looked back since then.
Mary Gannon: Celine, how did you end up working in fluid power after you got back into this business of engineering
Celine Cabana: It more by chance. I was looking for a job back in 2015 after leaving the country for nine years. So when I came back and was looking for work and mainly I’m very interested in any technical industry. I really wanted to go back in technical, on the technical side. So for me, the offer at FD-GROUPS America was a business [inaudible 00:03:41] but truly technical sales also so it’s not just selling, sales sucks, or having something that was not my interest. But my interest was really to go and learn new technology that I did not work with before and because my pleasure is to try to redraw problem, technical problem. So being in the fluid power was a good way of doing it and it was technical for me and then the sales part also. I like to see and talk to people but yet, for me it was, I would say I was looking at the technical more, technical job and that’s the one I found. And I’m [inaudible 00:04:39] it would be industry and I like it.
Mary Gannon: It is a great industry to be in for sure. I feel like it’s kind of like a family and I feel like there’s a lot of great people in here and there are a lot of amazing women in this industry. Do you have any, you know, people that influenced you to ever become an engineer? Was that something you always wanted to do? Cause you have master’s degree you said so that clearly, there was a passion for you.
Celine Cabana: At first, I would say no. My dad was a mechanical engineer and I guess he was the influence for me to go and make mechanical engineering and why mechanical engineering because it was for me the one that I thought was touching more to everything. So I don’t know if it because it was doing at the end more project management but in the mechanical industry, but then touching also the electro-mechanical and a bit of structural and so that was the example I had and being a person who like solving technical problem, I was seeing myself in that path.
Mary Gannon: Wonderful. Ashley, you mentioned Dr. Monika. How did you end up going into engineering yourself though. You didn’t meet her until later in your education, you know, why was engineering your field of choice.
Ashley Busquets: Back in high school, many years ago, I have a math teacher actually that I, I really enjoyed math, and he had suggested to me to look into engineering. So from there, I started in some engineering groups and taking some classes in college and it was really great because my undergrad, I started by taking both electrical and mechanical and then from there, the last two years you started kind of focusing more on one. So I decided on Mechanical Engineering from that and then I also have an internship at Dow Chemical in Michigan and I worked in a group of all PhD’s. So they kind of helped me realize my dream of getting my PhD and continuing my education and then as you said from there I met Monika and decided to go into hydraulics and it was a pretty and simple and easy decision for me to continue following that path because as Celine was talking as well, the technical aspect of it is really intriguing, really interesting to get into. Not just in hydraulics but also the mechanical background as well.
Mary Gannon: Along those lines, do you guys have any interesting stories, any cool design challenges that you’ve faced and tackled that you’d like to share with our listeners about a cool project you’ve worked on?
Ashley Busquets: I’m new to the field and the industry part of it but I like to just kind of use an example of grad school in general because research doesn’t always go as planned so you kind of learn to adapt and stay positive and also with the grad school you follow the newest innovation so it’s kind of fun to bring that into the industry and see how it goes, I guess, so it’s not an exact project but I said I’m kind of new on the industry side of things but it’s fun to watch it grow.
Mary Gannon: Absolutely.
Celine Cabana: I would say that I always have been a more generalist, not the design itself, but the application engineer, and now I’m more application slash project slash sales. But throughout my career I would say that the challenge or the most interesting for me being the technical part was always to learn the newest technology. I was working because I did change industry and learning new technology, learning new parts of the industry, mechanical industry, because the mechanical industry is very very very wide. Was always very interesting but also challenging because you’re starting and a baby, you don’t know anything.
Mary Gannon: Yeah, I am not an engineer but I love to kind of see how the projects go and how people kind of, like you said, you know, things don’t always go as planned but the challenges can be fun and interesting and then you come up with great innovations so it is definitely interesting to see how that all goes to happen. What do you love the most about the fluid power industry? Ashley, you’re new to it but you’ve got to work in it in your master’s degree and PhD. Celine you’ve worked in it for I think you said 15 years. What do you think about, you know, this market and the people involved in it?
Ashley Busquets: So that’s the biggest thing I think I love about hydraulics is like you said earlier, it’s a small world so it’s a family. You’re traveling to conferences or even in my case, many colleagues that I worked with in graduate school now you’re seeing in the industry and the people make it great.
Celine Cabana: What I like about it, is I’m always, I’ve been in the industry since 2015 so it’s not very long and I’m always amazed of everywhere we can use it. So, our products are mainly on the highway equipment but then realizing that there’s also on the road equipment that has the fluid power and then in the oil industry and there are pneumatics and so everywhere you go you can find some and that always amaze me.
Mary Gannon: It is, I always love to point out to my daughters different machines where fluid power is used and they used to kind of make fun of me but now they get excited and they’ll be like “Mom, you should write an article about this ride at this amusement park” so it is pretty cool, it really is everywhere and it’s like you said, it’s a small industry but it’s powerful and mighty.
Mary Gannon: You’re two fairly new women to the fluid power industry but, you know, you’ve got a lot of experience behind you and a lot of knowledge and a lot of education. What do you think that we can do to promote more young women and more educated women getting into this industry and joining an engineering career for fluid power?
Celine Cabana: I’ve been following and I’m going to use an example that is not exactly in the fluid power, a little bit more now, but I’ve been following for a couple of years, First Robotics because the girls that are doing robots and mom is happy to do robots with the girls but I think that it needs to grow, accept more and more that will [inaudible 00:11:18] women fluid power. I think that if we start very early and we have fluid power challenges like in the First Robotics also in the FRC you can have the pneumatics, they’re using pneumatics, so that for me a way to bring and to get excitement about the engineering field in general and fluid power also. Because those type of competition are very collaborative and for the kids, it’s very rewarding also. So after that they want to continue or they, perhaps not all the kids that do that wants to continue but I think that that’s a good way to get them to continue after an engineering or fluid power.
Ashley Busquets: And I have a little bit maybe different perspective but in my opinion I think it’s good mentors because that’s the background that I’ve had in engineering from Monika and now working with Celine I’ve always had some great mentors also lucky enough to have women mentors myself so I think that really helped me stay in this field that I can feel maybe welcomed as well. Also touching on that the equality, so not treating women any differently in the field whether it’s good or bad.
Mary Gannon: Absolutely. I think mentoring seems to be one of the resounding ideas and mentoring, you know, at the college level but even as you said, Celine, mentoring the younger girls in those First groups or the NFPA Action Challenge that is really critical to getting them on that career path so I think that’s something we’re going to have to pursue further along the line as women in this industry finally a… This is an interesting question for you. Do you guys think that women have a different perspective, bringing it as women into engineering and fluid power. If so, is it any different than what men might bring?
Ashley Busquets: Okay, as an example from when I was in college, one of my very first professors, cause I was one of two girls in the entire program, so he would always use an example with me that the Rendezvous, it’s maybe an older car, so that kind of makes me sound old too, he would us the Rendezvous as an example and say that you could tell that the team, the engineering team was all men because it had a lot of power but it wasn’t very nice to look at. So fluid power is obviously power, but I think that women can kind of still bring a different perspective and just a different view on things that could maybe open up to leading to the new innovation that wouldn’t necessarily be important from a men’s perspective.
Celine Cabana: And I want to add something, I agree with Ashley, but I think also that the more diversified your team is, the more diversified you can have or you can bring more ideas from different background. So bringing ideas from different background helps you to innovate more. If you’re always doing the same thing the same way, you’re going to continue to do the same thing the same way but if you’re bringing people from outside then you’re, you have a diversification that will help you have new idea.
Mary Gannon: Absolutely and that goes for women, it goes for younger versus older engineers, it goes for people from different cultures and around the world, I think that really is important. Diversity is critical to engineering teams. I think you’re totally on the mark there.
Mary Gannon: Any other thoughts you ladies would like to add about fluid power and the future of your careers here in this wonderful industry?
Celine Cabana: I don’t have much to add but I just want to say to any girls wanting to get into hydraulics, go for it!
Mary Gannon: We need to get more education programs out there.
Celine Cabana: Or engineering in general even.
Ashley Busquets: Absolutely. Get involved and have fun.
Mary Gannon: It is fun. Well thank you very much Celine and Ashley for being here for our very first Women in Fluid Power podcast. I appreciate you taking the time to be with us today and welcome our audience to continue to listen and connect with Celine and Ashley and perhaps you can find some more active engaged women to join FD Group someday.
Filed Under: Podcasts, Women in Fluid Power