mHUB Convenes Women in Manufacturing & Engineering at their Expanded Innovation Center in 2023
Newly located within a Planned Manufacturing District, mHUB is honored to have hosted its annual Women in Manufacturing & Engineering Day event, which convened over 300 change-makers from across the region in celebration of women in hardtech industries.
This event featured two fireside chats with C-Suite power houses, followed by a five-person panel that discussed women advancing innovation and inclusion in manufacturing and engineering sectors.
Opening remarks from Melissa Lederer, Chief Experience Officer at mHUB, kicked off the event. “Today is truly a great way to celebrate and acknowledge the incredible things that women in this industry are doing in manufacturing, technology, STEM, and those finding opportunities to understand what's out there for women in this sector.”
Following opening remarks, the first fireside chat shed light from Dr. Zara Summers, Chief Science Officer at LanzaTech, a climatetech company utilizing microbes to recycle carbon emissions from various sources into fuels and chemicals that can be fed back into the supply chain. Dr. Summers oversees LanzaTech's comprehensive Science division, integrating and aligning with engineering and commercialization divisions to harmonize and streamline the company's robust R&D efforts.
"You're a voice in a sea of big voices, so how do you touch people in a way that when they have a problem they know to look for you?" said Dr. Summers. "You do that with friends. You do that through your network. You build champions and we have champions in this room."
Adding insights after the first fireside chat were panelists (from left to right): Doris Espiritu, Ph.D., Senior Advisor to Provost, City Colleges of Chicago and Dean of the Center of Excellence for Engineering and Computer Science, Wright College; Anne Palermo, Co-Founder & CEO of Aqua Cultured Foods; Linda McGill-Boasmond, President of Cedar Concepts Corporation; Paige Petroni, President of Fontaine Fifth Wheel; and Anna McDermott, Director of Operations at Milwaukee Tool. Each panelist’s individual background and expertise gave them a unique perspective on the discussion topic regarding advancing inclusion and innovation.
Paige Petroni, speaking from her heart and personal experience, shared advice to startup founders: "Get ready to fail. Just accept that is going to happen, but you learn so much more from those failures than you do from successes you have. Be ready to persevere through it because, often, it is too hard. But you can do it, and you're not alone doing it."
Linda McGill-Boasmond, President of Cedar Concepts Corporation, also offered sage advice about the important actions women in manufacturing and engineering need to take as they move along their career path. "Never have I left a room without finding someone in that room who has helped to make my business better. Don't overlook the person that is right next to us."
The second fireside chat featured the fabulous Indiegogo CEO Becky Center, who has previous experience as an Entrepreneur in Residence at GE, a Director of Product Management at Groupon, and was a VP Head of Product Management and General Manager at HealthJoy. As the CEO of Indiegogo, a global crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs, Becky Center leverages her distinctive skillset to expand Indiegogo’s impact for founders and across new markets. She is highly knowledgeable about the experience of entrepreneurs as they move through their business journey, from inception to sustainable growth.
"You look around this room and you realize these programs facilitate bringing people together who may not have felt like this is for them or that they've had access," stated Center. "...and they can look around this room today and see people who are 'like me' and it fuels them to keep going."
mHUB’s Women in Manufacturing & Engineering event ended on a high note with an interactive activity where participants were challenged to build a tower out of office supply materials. Those who constructed a tower that stood two-feet tall and stably held the weight of two washers at the top found themselves among the winning teams.
Are you an entrepreneur with an early-stage product idea? The mHUB mPOWER program is designed to rebalance opportunity and access for underrepresented founders building physical products. The next 6-month program will be tailored to women founders and provides participants with stipends, programming, and access to mHUB labs and shared workspace. Apply for the January 2024 Cohort.