International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 and in many places, the entire month has been dedicated to a celebration of women’s achievements and a call for advancements in gender parity. In the arena of 3D technologies, as in many tech sectors, there are an increasing number of efforts to engage women and to help educate the next generation of girls. These initiatives are ongoing, and an important part of interesting girls in tech and growing the number of women involved in 3D is presenting role models. Seeing someone who reminds you of yourself succeeding, reminds you that you too could succeed. When company after company that makes headlines reveals a who’s who page that includes only male faces, it can be discouraging, particularly to those only beginning to consider becoming involved.
Part of the contribution that we here at 3DPrint.com can make is to help show the faces of the continually growing number of women who are not just surviving in 3D, but also thriving at its core. With that in mind, we recently spoke with Rani Richardson, a highly successful professional who holds the position of Director of CATIA Technical Sales for Light Weight Engineering at Dassault Systèmes.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
“After attending Montclair State University, I worked in NYC in the garment center while getting my MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. After college I took some time off to raise my daughter and son. I re-entered the workforce as the Director of Operations for a company focused on manufacturing processes, which later became a Dassault Systèmes technical partner.”
Did you grow up in a tech-engaged household or is this something you discovered on your own?
“My mother has always loved technology. At 84 she recently managed to install her new wireless printer to interface with her iPad. Technology is always something that intrigued me and still does. Recently, I have been having fun converting my home into a ‘smart home.’”
I see that you have worked for Dassault since 2006, how did you first connect with this company? What is it about this company that has made working for them something you wish to do in the long term?
“Prior to working at Dassault Systèmes I was working for a technology partner. My interface with Dassault Systèmes made me want to work here. I love working for such an innovative company that is in the forefront of technology. In my current position I am very fortunate to be connected to the 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing world. As new materials, machines and processes evolve so do the types of products that can be manufactured. It is really an exciting industry.”
Can you explain to our readers what your job as Director of CATIA Technical Sales for Light Weight Engineering entails? What path did you take to achieve that position?
“I manage a team based in North America that focuses on Light Weight Engineering. We emphasize on helping our customers and prospects learn how to implement and deploy solutions for mechanical engineering including Function Driven Generative Design and Composites. We also interface with thought leaders including Oak Ridge National Lab and IACMI – the Composites Institute to understand where the industry is going and ensure our solution meets industry needs.”
3D tech is a largely male dominated industry, have you had any unique challenges or experiences as a woman in 3D?
“To be honest, the way I have handled working in a male dominated world is by not focusing on gender. I am motivated by the work I am doing and by the many talented people I get to work with.”
There are a number of efforts underway to help interest more girls in STEM, do you have any advice for girls who think they might be interested in pursuing a career in 3D tech or who may feel that there is limited opportunity for them to do so?
“My advice to any girls wanting to go into the technology sector is just do it. Don’t worry about being a female. If you don’t focus on that small point you can achieve anything you want to. To me, it isn’t a conversation worth having. If it is your passion just do it. Don’t let gender be your showstopper.”
“The market is growing quickly and there is a need for people who can help companies set and execute additive and 3D strategies for a function that is greenfield. I believe there is a great opportunity here for diversity because there isn’t a decades old set of ‘experts’ – companies should be looking at people who have expertise in design, materials or management who can become their experts. There are many women who can play that role.”
It’s more and more difficult to find anything that 3D printing hasn’t impacted, what do you think its greatest contribution has been? What do you see as its next great challenge?
“That’s really hard to narrow down. There have been many advances in technology that have broadened the scope of 3D printing. Many institutes around the country have done amazing work. For instance, The National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University (NIAR) works with the aerospace industry to develop standards for production parts, while certifying materials and processes. At Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), they 3D printed a replica of the Shelby Cobra, a utility vehicle that powered a 3D printed house, and a Willie’s Jeep, to name a few.
The challenges are for Institutes like NIAR to increase the adoption of tools and reduce the uncertainty that consumers have today. Once the industry has confidence in the methods and tools to repeatedly build parts, mass adoption can occur. It is an exciting time to be involved with 3D printing. New and connected products are requiring engineers to rethink the way we design and manufacture parts. If there was ever a time for innovation, it is now. If you love technology and you love a challenge, welcome to 3D printing.”
CATIA is a favored offering in Dassault’s portfolio, offering powerful tools in additive manufacturing and engineering applications.
If you are interested in sharing your story, or know a woman we should get in touch with for this series, please reach out any time. Send us an email or connect on Twitter. We’re looking forward to sharing more stories about women in 3D printing. Find all the features in this series here.
We are also featuring educators focusing on training and teaching 3D printing skills; see all these features here.
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