A Need for Speed: How We Doubled the Performance of our Robot Fleet

Introducing the Fastest Robot Fleet in the Industry

For years, speed and agility have inhibited greater throughput efficiencies and better ROI for pallet-moving robot fleets. Most AGV solutions top out at 1.7-2 meters per second, and remain inflexible to changing environments.

Vecna Robotics has broken the speed barrier, introducing the fastest robot fleet in the materials handling industry. Combined with Vecna Robotics’ best-in-class navigation, the Mark 3 software release doubles robot performance, without compromising safety.

The Mark 3 software release provides critical updates that deliver unprecedented performance, including:

  • Speed: Achieves a top speed of 3 m/s, 50% quicker interactions with pallet pickups, and better acceleration and deceleration times to improve average overall speed.
  • Free Space Reasoning™: Introduces proprietary updates to best-in-class Path Planning and Obstacle Avoidance to improve performance and handling in tight spaces.
  • Safety: Maintains the same rigorous safety standards as previous generations and complies with the American National Standards Institute B56.5 and Robotics Industries Association R15.08 safety standards.

Putting Data to Work through Cloud Connectivity

The new performance upgrades results from Vecna Robotics’ ongoing work to improve vehicle performance using data collected over time through its proprietary Pivotal™ orchestration engine. Pivotal assigns work to robot fleets based on real-time demand, resource availability and proximity, and collects performance metrics from the production floor.

The resulting data provides insights to understanding robot performance and behavior. With this information, developers update the software and push over-the-air updates to the robots in real time, so the robots work smarter and faster than ever before. Over time, customers benefit from:

  • increased fleet efficiency,
  • faster ROI,
  • better use of laborforce,
  • immediate and regular performance upgrades, and
  • expanded applications for automation solutions.

Vecna Robotics’ AMRs are the only self-driving forklifts equipped with path planning and obstacle avoidance. In addition, they are also the only pallet-handling AMRs that can deploy cloud-driven updates for immediate in-field performance improvements. Customers can benefit from the Mark 3 release whether they are deployed through the cloud or through on-prem installation.

Get More Info!

Click here to learn more about our Continuous Improvement cycle and what the latest software release means for you.

Read the full press release here.

Vecna Robotics and Alta MH Team Up to Offer Robotic Material Handling Solutions

Vecna Robotics, the autonomous mobile robot (AMR) and workflow orchestration company, announced a partnership with Alta Material Handling (Alta MH). This partnership allows Alta MH to offer high-capacity AMRs to customers looking to purchase robotic material handling vehicles. Through this collaboration, more companies will be able to integrate automated pallet movement into their distribution, warehousing and manufacturing operations. Alta MH is now able to offer the only pallet-handling AMRs equipped with obstacle avoidance, path planning and independent pallet pick-up.

Today, less than 1% of the millions of material handling vehicles in the U.S. are automated. With over 1.8 billion pallets in daily circulation and an ongoing shortage of industrial workers, the need for robotic material handling vehicles is apparent. Together, Alta Material Handling and Vecna Robotics will meet customer demand by automating the high frequency pallet handling that takes place in distribution centers, warehouses and manufacturing facilities across the country.

robotic material handling vehicles workingAlta MH established an “Emerging Technology” group in January of 2020 in response to the industry’s rapid adoption of autonomous mobile robots, artificial intelligence, IOT and lithium and hydrogen power sources. This innovative approach is blind to specific solutions and takes a holistic approach to assessing technology. Alta’s methodical evaluation of current market offerings led to a partnership with Vecna Robotics, marking a powerful addition to the Alta MH portfolio.

Joe Bollman, manager of Alta Robotics at AMH, explains the factors that make Vecna Robotics the best candidate for this expansion. “We’re excited for the potential of this partnership, particularly as we see demand for AMRs grow among our customer base as they learn more about the difference between AGVs and AMRs,” said Bollman, “Customers are asking for features like the ability to reroute in real-time and navigate freely around obstacles – a more viable, safe and flexible option for many. In today’s world, autonomous robotic material handling solutions are a crucial component to helping organizations keep pace with the demands of the industry and offset labor shortages. Expanding our offerings with Vecna Robotics’ solutions aligns with Alta’s focus on serving our customers with the most innovative and best-in-class materials handling equipment on the market.”

Alta MH will spec, sell and service Vecna Robotics’ full range of automated pallet transfer vehicles, which includes self-driving forklifts, pallet trucks and tow trucks. The AMRs work seamlessly alongside both other materials handling vehicles and human workers to improve efficiency and throughput.

robotic material handling vehicles

“We’re eager to kick off this partnership with Alta Material Handling, as the company has a deep knowledge of customer needs and an innovative outlook,” said Matthew Cherewka, director of business development and strategy at Vecna Robotics. “With Alta’s extensive reach and long-held reputation for quality products and service, we are pleased to work alongside them to expand their offerings and deploy our solutions nationwide.”

Vecna Robotics’ AMRs use Pivotal™, an intelligent software that orchestrates the routes of both robots and humans to ensure that the right resource is in the right place at the right time. This solution is able to analyze an organization’s operations in real time and can dynamically adjust workflows for maximum efficiency.

Alta Material Handling will be conducting live demonstrations of Vecna Robotics’ AMRs at the Innovate 21 Expo on October 14, 2021 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. For more information, follow Vecna Robotics on LinkedIn or get in touch here

 

The Benefits of a Forklift Robot: The Robot Industry Podcast with Jeff Huerta

Jeff Huerta, Vice President of Sales at Vecna Robotics, discusses the labor shortage affecting the material handling industry and how automation solves for this on The Robot Industry Podcast. A forklift robot can help mitigate the challenges of attracting and retaining forklift drivers by automating dangerous or repetitive jobs and shifting workers towards higher-level roles. Huerta delves into some of the proven benefits of these vehicles, explaining how they are able to generate actionable, data-based insights and massive efficiency gains.

Listen to Jeff Huerta discuss these benefits on The Robot Industry Podcast.

By making the switch to a forklift robot, you’re not only solving for the current labor shortage, you’re introducing an efficient worker that can meet and exceed your organization’s target metrics. Vecna Robotics understands that facilities need a strong workforce to meet shifting consumer demands, and offers automated material handling and hybrid fulfillment with self-driving vehicles to support this. Using high-technology sensors and recognition, the forklift robot can detect, report, and even solve for obstacles and workflow issues.

Vecna Robotics’ award winning orchestration engine, Pivotal, allows businesses to flexibly yield adaptive solutions that meet an unpredictable market’s needs. This method of multi-agent orchestration optimizes movements of diverse robots and humans seamlessly and schedules prioritized, efficient workflows.  These solutions amplify the benefits of automation, unlocking new levels of productivity for customers in the distribution, e-commerce, warehousing, and manufacturing sectors.

 

robot forklift

Vecna Robotics is a Boston-based company that helps retail and distribution operations automate their facilities with robust, flexible and scalable logistics solutions – offering a robot forklift, tugger and pallet truck that have dynamic applications in many settings. Vecna’s technology goes beyond traditional automation by maximizing both human and robot productivity to create fulfilling jobs, provide businesses with a competitive advantage, and encourage innovation.

Read more about the benefits of automating here.

Automation that Empowers: Mobile Robotics and the Workforce

Daniel Theobald, Founder and CIO of Vecna Robotics, makes an appearance on FreightWave’s “What the Truck?!?” to discuss the first autonomous mobile robot (AMR) interoperability standard and how it allows for robots of differing vendors to work together. Theobald also delves into topics such as supply chain automation that empowers workers, the unique strengths of humans, and misconceptions regarding mobile robotics and the labor force.

AMRs are a rapidly growing segment of industrial automation, and are being integrated into many types facilities on a nationwide level to meet rising consumer demand. The standard provides the ability for customers to “plug-and-play” solutions from different companies, offering coordination and shared data from a mixed fleet of mobile robots. This new standard will likely have a positive impact on the adoption rate of automation in months to come.

Listen to Theobald discuss automation that empowers and more at 33:00.

This episode also discusses how automation affects workers, both directly and indirectly. Theobald states that when implemented correctly, mobile robotics can be incredibly empowering to employees. “People are what matter,” says Theobald, “We want to help people focus on jobs they’re excited about. Let robots to the boring, dirty and dull stuff.”

When robots take over repetitive and tedious tasks, workers can be moved onto value-added positions. Humans can engage problem-solving skills that will improve their job satisfaction rather than driving from one side of the warehouse to the other – which is actually where many accidents occur. Many material handling facilities have over a 300% turnover rate, and letting robots carry out dangerous or boring tasks will help to reduce this.

Theobald points out that many view automation as a zero-sum game, meaning that people believe when robots do some work, there is less work for humans. He expresses that the opposite is often true, citing studies that show integrating automation effectively lets businesses stay competitive and leads to the hiring of more workers. Theobald adds: “Robots working with humans is the key to success for everyone.”

Read more on this topic here.

 

Writing the Mobile Robot Safety Standard: Mike Bearman on The Robot Report Podcast

On episode 44 of The Robot Report Podcast, COO of Vecna Robotics Mike Bearman speaks about his role on the ANSI/RIA R15.08 mobile robot safety standard committee. Bearman details what it means to be compliant the R15.08 , and how Vecna Robotics’ vehicles meet that standard.

“We’ve hit the right notes to make sure safety was a priority,” says Bearman on the new release. “We think the resulting standard is going to stand the test of time”.

Mobile Robot Safety Standards on The robot report podcast

Click here to listen to what’s going on in the robot world.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are a rapidly growing segment of industrial automation. Until now, mobile robots have lacked universally-accepted definitions and their own safety standards. This release, with input from industry experts, redefines industrial mobile robots. The R15.08 offers clarity on what constitutes an AMR and what differentiates them from other mobile robot types. These distinctions provide information that is critical to proper application of the standards.

“With these mobile robot safety standards in place, we feel confident that the market will be able to grow for everyone” says Bearman.

Bearman also made note of the MassRobotics’ AMR Interoperability Standard, which was released earlier this week and will have an vastly positive impact on adoption of automation in industrial spaces.

When asked what’s next for Vecna Robotics, Bearman makes mention of the recent autonomous counterbalanced fork truck  launch, as well as upcoming interoperability testing taking place at customer sites. “We’re going to continue to push the envelope on interoperability” says Bearman.

The Robot Report hosts conversations with leaders in the robotics industry. Listen to the podcast to find out what its like to serve on a standard committee.

Read more about the MassRobotics Autonomous Mobile Robot Interoperability Standard here.

 

Vecna Robotics Collaborates with MassRobotics to Develop Interoperability Standards

MassRobotics Publishes World’s First Open Source Autonomous Mobile Robot Interoperability Standards

Industry Experts Partner to Develop Guidelines that Enable Robots from Different Vendors to “Speak” the Same Language and Work Together Cooperatively

BOSTON, Mass., May 18, 2021MassRobotics, an independent, non-profit center that serves to educate, inspire and bring robotics initiatives, investments and companies to life, today announced the release of the MassRobotics Interoperability Standard. The new initiative enables Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) from multiple vendors to integrate and work together seamlessly to support safe and efficient operations in global factories, warehouses, distribution and fulfillment centers. Members of the working group and contributors to the newly introduced standards include Vecna Robotics, 6 River Systems, Waypoint Robotics, Locus Robotics, Seegrid, MiR, Autoguide Mobile Robots, Third Wave Automation, Open-Source Robotics Foundation and others.

“The release of version 1.0 of the MassRobotics Interoperability Standard is a crucial milestone for the industry,” said Daniel Theobald, CEO of Vecna Robotics and co-founder of MassRobotics. “It’s this pre-competitive collaboration and combined thinking from the greatest minds in the field that drive the sector forward exponentially faster than any one vendor could otherwise.”

According to Logistic IQ, the global AMR and Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) market is expected to reach $14 billion by 2026, with more than 270 vendors leading the manufacturing and logistics space. AMR adoption in particular is growing at an incredible rate, with a CAGR of roughly 45% between 2020 and 2026.

Until now, fleets of robots from multiple vendors have had no standard way to coordinate activities or share information. The MassRobotics AMR Interoperability Working Group was formed in 2020 to address these challenges and simplify the adoption of autonomous mobile robots into the market. The group’s newly issued standard allows robots of different types to share status information and operational conventions, or “rules of the road,” so they can work together more cohesively on a warehouse or factory floor. The standard also enables the creation of operational dashboards so managers can gain insights into fleet productivity and resource utilization.

“Functional and practical standards are a critical next step for robotic automation,” said Tom Ryden, Executive Director, MassRobotics. “Our AMR Interoperability Working Group has diligently focused on development and testing of these standards, which are needed now, and we fully expect will evolve as the robotics industry and end-user companies implement them. We encourage buyers to begin looking for the MassRobotics Interoperability Standard compliance badge when making purchasing decisions.”

End-users from major shipping and distribution centers have validated the need and provided requirements for this standard. The first use case will be trialed at a FedEx facility where AMRs from Waypoint Robotics, Vecna Robotics and others will be operating in the same production area.

“I applaud the Working Group for their efforts and dedication in laying out these first steps towards AMR interoperability. The diversity of the team shows that the industry can work together in finding solutions around this issue,” said Aaron Prather, Senior Advisor, FedEx. “Our interoperability validation in Memphis later this year will be a great real-world application of Version 1.0’s capabilities and will help to provide feedback to the Working Group to potentially demonstrate what future steps may need to be taken to make further improvements.”

“Support for this effort has been broad, and we are indebted to numerous companies and individuals for donating so much time and expertise to the development of this standard,” said Theobald. “This important technology lays the groundwork for future innovation and concrete value for customers worldwide.”

The new open-source code allows end-users to build dashboards to monitor fleet status and efficacy across mixed-vendor teams of AMRs. The AMR interoperability standards are published on GitHub and can be accessed here: https://github.com/MassRobotics-AMR/AMR_Interop_Standard

About MassRobotics

MassRobotics is the result of the collective work of a global group of engineers, rocket scientists and entrepreneurs with a shared vision to create a strong, vibrant robotics and IoT ecosystem. MassRobotics’ mission is to help create and scale the next generation of successful robotics and connected devices companies by providing entrepreneurs and innovative robotics/automation startups with the workspace and resources they need to develop, prototype, test and commercialize their products and solutions. See massrobotics.org for details.

Research Study: Implementing Flexible Automation with AGVs and AMRs

MMH Research Study

Research study of AMR and AGV technology adoption

Vecna Robotics and Peerless Research conducted a research study on behalf of Modern Materials Management to evaluate the adoption rate of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). The research study includes responses from over 160 participants from a variety of industries. Most respondents, (67%) are in manufacturing. Other respondents work in wholesale trade, retail trade, consulting services, or the 3PL field. The research focuses on supply chain adoption and usage of AGVs and AMRs. The questions examine how the technology is being used, and discusses its future impacts on a broad range of industries. The results of the study provided great insight into the trends and challenges of flexible automation adoption.

Implementing flexible automation

COVID-19 redirected the focus and priorities of every business leader. 76% of organizations ranked business continuity and resiliency as a very or extremely important priority. The uncertainty of the pandemic’s impact pushed leaders to consider their organization’s ability to survive during challenging times. Distribution centers’ operational struggles that existed pre-pandemic were exacerbated by the crisis. The evolving and unpredictable pandemic changed organization’s plans, opinions, and priorities for the future.

Key findings from the recent survey of Modern Materials Management magazine showed that readers values are changing as a result of the pandemic. There is more emphasis on safety (88% say this is “very important”) and throughput (65%). Two years from now, the focus will shift with training (89%), ergonomics (68%), environmental sustainability (68%), and cycle times (67%) all claiming their respective spots near the top of the priority list.

In addition, readers are reporting the increased adoption of AGVs, AMRs, and other material handling technologies in manufacturing, distribution, retail, and third-party logistics settings. The barriers to adopt automation are clear. Capital investment is a great challenge to start adopting technology. The need for flexible solutions and pricing options are critical to organizations considering adoption. The ability to adapt to evolving demands is key for surviving the pandemic and other future changes.

Vecna Robotics uses research results to meet customer needs

The results in the research brief give insights into the needs of warehousing, distribution, and manufacturing audiences. Vecna Robotics made operational changes in 2020 to serve our customers with flexible automation solutions. The company offers a Robotics-as-a-Service pricing option which preserves capital and prepares facilities for whatever comes next. Survey respondents also shared their experience with labor shortage. Vecna Robotics understands that facilities need a strong workforce to combat today’s surging e-commerce demand.  Autonomous material handling equipment collaborates with the human workforce for increased efficiency. Laborers can now work on less dangerous and more engaging work.

Vecna Robotics uses research study results to better understand the concerns and needs of our customers. The robotics company makes actionable decisions to meet the individual needs of facilities. Increased efficiency, throughput, and flexibility are the goals we strive to meet for our customers.

Free Downloadable Research Study

 

 

Warehouse Automation Levels up the Supply Chain

Forbes Recognizes the Benefits of Warehouse Automation

Warehouse automation vehicles, such as Vecna Robotics’ autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), are taking a load of stress off of overwhelmed warehouses and distribution centers. Forbes Magazine covered the recent upswing in automation adoption and the role robots play in improving supply chain efficiency. The COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer behavior in a way that will not be reversed. E-commerce demand is booming and facilities are turning to robotic solutions to manage the surge.

Automated Material Handling Equipment Benefits Human Workforce

Warehouse automation vehicle

Vecna Robotics’ Autonomous Tugger

Forbes calls attention to the diverse operations robots can carry out within facilities. Popular automated solutions are filling the traditionally grueling, repetitive, and low wage roles of laborers. Automating these roles releases the human workforce to execute more desirable tasks. There is plenty of work to be done, assigning robots the dangerous and undesirable roles empowers facility personnel.

Vecna Robotics is rapidly growing in the market of autonomous pallet handling robots. The company’s fleet of automated equipment expanded in 2020 with the release of the Autonomous Counterbalanced Fork Truck. Vecna Robotics’ solutions stand apart from competitors because they are path planning vehicles as opposed to path following automated guided vehicles (AGVs). Path planning allows the vehicle to make fewer stops and navigate freely and cautiously around obstacles. This allows human workers to focus on their tasks without the interruptions caused by AGVs.

Trending Growth of Automated Equipment Adoption

Warehouse automation has been growing in popularity. Integrating robots into warehouse workflows increases productivity and maximizes throughput. Forbes reports that American robotics industry sales have exploded with a 63.6% increase in a single quarter of 2019. The pandemic has accelerated this growth rate dramatically. RIA statistics show that North American companies ordered 31,044 robotic units, valued at roughly $1.6 billion in 2020.

warehouse automation vehichle

Autonomous Counterbalanced Fork Truck

 

The trend to adopt warehouse automation is catching on with the recognition that there is a huge opportunity for improved productivity and labor efficiency. However, implementing modern technology in legacy systems can be a challenge. Flexible systems are key to seamless integration. AMR solutions paired with orchestration technology enable more flexible and resilient operations as demands fluctuate day-to-day and season-to-season. The roles of automated material handling robots are expanding and facilities are now relying on their support to meet their demands.

 

 

Read the full Forbes article here. 

Learn more about Vecna Robotics’ AMRs here.  

 

 

Vecna Robotics Leaders Named Pros to Know

Vecna Robotics Leaders Named Pros to Know

Industry leading publication, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, has announced the winners of the 2021 Pros to Know award. The award recognizes outstanding executives whose accomplishments offer a roadmap for other leaders looking to leverage supply chain for competitive advantage. Two members of the Vecna Robotics leadership team, Daniel Theobald and Zachary Dydek were named to the aspirational list. For the last 21 years, SDCE’s editorial has vetted hundreds of nominations for the annual award, finding the best leaders in the supply chain industry. 

Leaders of the Pandemic

The COVID-19 global pandemic sent the world into chaos. As a result of the crisis, stock outs were normalized and every industry made efforts to adjust accordingly. Professionals in the supply chain were unsung heroes of the crisis. These leaders played key roles in restocking essentials items and supporting supply chain efficiency. These efforts required extreme resiliency, fast action, and the adaptation of strategies, investment and leadership. According to a study by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 80% of enterprises agree the demands of dealing with COVID-19 have provided an opportunity for companies to make procedural or operational changes that will better benefit the business in the long run.  

Vecna Robotics’ Response to Crisis

Daniel Theobald, Founder and CEO, and Zachary Dydek, CTO, led Vecna Robotics through the pandemic. Their efforts allowed the company – and their customers – to remain successful, and continue delivering goods nationwide. Despite the challenges, Vecna Robotics found innovative ways to deliver autonomous solutions to customers. Autonomous mobile robots are a tool for warehouses to increase throughput and stay ahead of surging demand.

Pros to Know

Zachary Dydek, Supply & Demand Chain Executive 2021 Pros to Know

As Chief Technology Officer for Vecna Robotics, Zachary Dydek is responsible for setting the long-term product vision and ensuring the company remains the technology leader in autonomous material handling. He is also one of the key architects to Vena Robotics’ world-class proprietary autonomy stack, and under his leadership, the team performs cutting-edge research in navigation, high-level autonomy, machine perception and more.  

 

 

 

 

Pros to Know

Daniel Theobald, Supply & Demand Chain Executive 2021 Pro to Know

As the CEO and founder of Vecna Robotics, Daniel Theobald brings decades of experience leading research scientists and teams of engineers in developing cuttingedge technology. He currently has 67 issued patents and more than 30 patents pending. Theobald has been at the forefront of robotics for more than 20 years, helping others advance the use of robots and AI software to improve supply chain automation. Theobald dedicates himself to the idea that technology can empower people worldwide to live more fulfilling lives. 

 

Supply & Demand Chain Executive 2021 Pros to Know Award joins a list of accolades Vecna Robotics earned this year. Vecna Robotics was named to Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2021. In addition, Vecna Robotics named SWE WE Local 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Partner Award.

Celebrating Women in Tech With Jenna Hormann

Jenna Hormann, Test Engineer on the Validation team at Vecna Robotics

In honor of  Women’s History Month, Vecna Robotics is highlighting the work and lives of women in tech. According to SWE Research only 13% of all engineers are female. Jenna Hormann, Test Engineer on the Validation team at Vecna Robotics shares her experiences in life, education, and career. Jenna explains how and why she became an engineer as well as the obstacles and triumphs she has experienced as a woman in tech.

Where did you grow up and what were you like as a child? What did your parents do for work?

I grew up in a small town in New Jersey with two older brothers. My mom was an English teacher, and both of my brothers as well as my dad were engineers. Because of that you’d think I’d have known from a young age that I wanted to follow in their footsteps, but that wasn’t the case. All growing up I would begrudgingly help my dad fix the car or install floorboards or something, and there are so many pictures of me holding a wrench and not smiling. I was shy and serious as a kid, but very observant. It makes me laugh because as an adult, I am the opposite of serious.

It wasn’t until high school that I acknowledged my interest in science and technology. I’m grateful for the early exposure. I learned from an early age that my interests and career options aren’t limited, whether it was something I wanted to pursue or not.

Where did you go to college? What did you study and what did you do after graduating?

I attended Northeastern University here in Boston, and studied Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Biomechanics. I didn’t start my first full-time engineering job until about two years after graduating, actually. Some of that time I was travelling, and some of that time I was working in a restaurant, both of which I really enjoyed. I was worried that it would be difficult to find an engineering job having been out of college for so long. But I knew that sticking to my own timeline was what was best for me. More companies are focused on finding the right culture fit and know that candidates who follow different paths can add just as much value as those who follow traditional paths.

What is your current job, and what do you like about it?

I am currently a Test Engineer on the Validation team at Vecna Robotics. It is my team’s job to find potential failures in our products before we release them to customers. We also run tests to validate any design changes and ensure that we are making the best decisions for a robust design. I love my job because I get to interact with all parts of the robot and work with every discipline – mechanical, electrical, and software. Every day is different, and it involves a lot of problem solving. I like that it’s hands-on and it’s fun when your goal is to break things instead of building them. I think I’m better at breaking things.

What inspired you to pursue a career in tech?

I wish I had one of those crazy inspiring stories about helping people. Honestly, I think the first moment I can clearly recall was when I was standing in line at Disney. I watched the animatronics and thought, “Could I make that??” I was definitely a teenager by then, but ever since then I’ve just wanted to make cool stuff.

What did you do to inspire kids to join this industry?

I used to try to involve myself in STEM events as much as possible because I loved showing kids that there’s nothing stopping them from pursuing a career in tech. Sometimes it was doing activities with young children to show them that they were capable, and other times it entailed sitting on a panel answering questions that older students had about being in the field. I think it’s important to be candid and address the concerns that make them hesitant to join the industry.

Yes, it can be difficult, but it’s absolutely doable if it’s what you’re interested in. No, you don’t have to have to be a straight A+ student. No, you don’t have to fit the mold of what people think a stereotypical engineer looks like – you can be feminine and social and still like to get your hands dirty. Fewer and fewer people are having these limited impressions as the times change, and it’s wonderful, but we definitely still have a way to go.

What do you find challenging about being a woman in tech and more broadly in a professional setting?

Relatively speaking, I’m pretty fortunate in that I never really experienced too much adversity as some women in tech until I entered the workforce through internships and full-time positions. The greatest  challenge for me as a female engineer has been finding and maintaining confidence in my work. When I first started my career, I was always afraid to make mistakes. Partly because of who I am as a person, but also because of the pressure I feel being one of the few women in tech. Unconscious bias doesn’t help either. When you find your ideas being dismissed, you can’t help but wonder why. Is it because because you’re a female, because you’re young, or simply because it wasn’t the best idea? Most of the time it’s truly none of those, but it can still be difficult to find the courage to stand your ground.

It wasn’t until one of my previous managers assured me that very few people are 100% sure of themselves, and that they are just more confident about taking their best educated guess, that I started to slowly use my voice more. It’s important to remind yourself that you’re not any less competent for making mistakes, as long as you’re learning from them.

What did help you to overcome those challenges?

Finding mentors and peers to help navigate these situations and feelings has been incredibly helpful to me. I gain great insights from those who have already been through certain scenarios. It’s inspiring to see a powerful female executive who seems cool and collected. Still, it’s just as inspiring to feel supported by the women in tech closer to your level helping each other through similar challenges. I also think it’s good to get in the habit of celebrating each other’s achievements more frequently so that your confidence can gain momentum.

What do you think companies should be doing to help women in tech overcome common challenges?

I think establishing women’s groups is a good place to start, or some sort of mentor matchup program to facilitate these relationships. I’ve seen a lot of companies doing this already and I think it’s great. Other efforts such as acknowledging the accomplishments of women by celebrating Women’s History Month, show support and appreciation for a company’s female employees.

Do you think that being a woman prevents you to grow in your career?

I never feel like being a woman in tech explicitly prevented me from moving up in my career. But I do believe that I’ve been held back by the personal belief that I couldn’t thrive in certain roles due to the qualities that women inherently tend to have. I’d always figured that I wouldn’t be a good leader or would have trouble making effective decisions because of my emotional nature. I’ve since learned that emotional intelligence actually works to my advantage. It’s hard to break those preconceived notions but I think seeing more examples of different personalities in higher positions has broadened my view.

What would be a piece of advice for the women in tech who struggle in their career with those topics?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. It sounds terribly cliché but it can feel like there’s pressure to be perfect when you’re in the minority as a woman. Also, find your strengths and continue to develop them. It can be overwhelming to be constantly learning new things and feel like you haven’t mastered anything yet. Leverage what you are good at; that will help you stay grounded and confident.

Read More Humans of Robotics stories here.