Extraordinary people have shaped the world as we know it today and our Tyndall alumni are no exception. They embody the scientific legacy of Tyndall and continue to make a difference and ripples of impact throughout their careers.
Today, we are proud to feature Magaly V. Mora, Project Manager and Operations Manager of the PIXAPP Pilot Line, Tyndall, who is now a Senior Project Engineer in Advanced Operations at Stryker Innovation Centre.
What is your current role and how different is it from your role in Tyndall?
Currently I am working as a Senior Project Engineer in Advanced Operations at the Stryker Innovation Centre. The main difference between my current role and my previous role at Tyndall is that the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is more advanced as the projects I am now working on are closer to a product's launch phase and closer to the manufacturing production stage. At Tyndall, I worked on projects with low to medium TRL levels, closer to the design concept phase or even with feasibility studies to prove a new solution. There are also differences in the core processes and corresponding types of design prints. For example, in my new role, the design prints that I work with are more mechanical designs, whereas in Tyndall, I worked with projects based on optoelectronic devices.
How did your time at Tyndall progress your career?
For me, getting an opportunity to work with Tyndall was a huge milestone. It was a significant professional opportunity to resume my career after extended maternity leave and of course an exciting role as an Electronic Engineer to work in a state-of-the-art R&D centre. Not only did I have the opportunity to reboot my career but also to build a more expansive network interested in promoting STEM and access training to renew my credentials. I have been a passionate volunteer since college promoting diversity in STEM. In Tyndall, I had multiple opportunities to participate in outreach activities and volunteering projects to promote STEM in the community, such as Teen Turn, EW@T, ESTeEM, SWE, IEEE, Engineers Ireland and WITS.
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering/research?
Honestly, I originally wanted to study Archaeology. My initial passion from high school was History. This passion was stemmed from my birthplace and home, in a place called Matamoros, Tamaulipas in the North of Mexico. Matamoros a historical city which earned its title of " Heroic, Loyal, and Undefeated” because of several historic events which took place - the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican Revolution, the Texas Revolution, the Mexican–American War, and the French Intervention. Interestingly, Matamoros is home to more than a hundred maquiladoras who are dedicated to the export industry. A maquiladora is an organisation dedicated to process manufacturing for multiple industries, the major ones being automotive, metal mechanics and medical devices.
My upbringing in this manufacturing city, together with my Dad’s encouragement were the source of my inspiration. My Dad encouraged me to take advantage of my natural abilities with Maths and Science to study to become an Engineer. He encouraged me to be open to Engineering in the fields of Electronics and Communications. So, I pursued a technical career in Electronics in High School and as part of my Bachelor degree and I found the subjects very interesting.
However, I was always more interested in process control and manufacturing orientated topics. As a result, when I was choosing my specialisation for my Masters, I wanted to prepare for a career in Manufacturing and Production Systems, so I pursued that path for my studies. I had the opportunity to learn amazing topics like Lean Six Sigma, Quality Function Deployment, TRIZ and Competitive Intelligence. Again, great and interesting topics and useful knowledge for my professional life.
Now I can look back and reflect and honestly say Engineering was the right path to follow as a profession. I come from a modest family of teachers from a rural area in the north of Mexico and never knew of any engineer to even imagine a life like this. In the early stages of my career back in Matamoros, I was working in the manufacturing side of the engineering. Thanks to the opportunity to work in Cork at Tyndall I saw first-hand how innovative and disruptive technologies are generated.
What’s your advice for those following in your footsteps?
Engineering opens up a wide range of options to develop your career. My main advice as always is: Do not be afraid to be challenged! There will always be challenges on the different TRLs and in any role you choose to pursue. There are opportunities for anyone interested to work on technology and systems at different maturity levels. What I can guarantee in Engineering is that with the challenge also comes the learnings and good memories. I believe work takes up so much time in our lives that it’s important as a young person to choose an area you are passionate about, and remain motivated by continually learning and accepting more responsibility in order to progress and keep you inspired.
Who or whom inspires you and why?
I am a person who looks to the experts a lot and I tend to look for a good inspiration for my many different hats. My main inspiration is my mother because she was always doing her best with us. She studied for a double degree, had a full-time job and managed to be there for us. She has always been on top of things (and her cooking is delicious!). As a professional, I had the opportunity to work with a Quality Manager twice, Zeferino Urbina (in the automotive and medical industries) who also inspired me. He was a mentor whom I found knowledgeable but also an admirable person who knows how to lead teams and support technical questions, despite work pressure or challenges.
How do you like to spend your personal-time?
I love to cook and to spend time with my family. If I can mix both, it would be preparing a full Mexican dinner (with dessert included) and spending time around the table chatting with my children and husband.
If you weren’t doing the job you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
I had the opportunity to work in Quality Control and Assurance for a while. I enjoyed analysing processes and samples and would definitely consider going back to Quality if I had the chance to.
What’s a motto you live by?
From Frances Willard (American educator, temperance reformer, and women's suffragist): 'I would not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.'
2021 has been a challenging year for many and some have taken it as a time to reflect. What would your own learnings be from 2021?
I have taken the time to reflect on the next steps for the years ahead. With the lockdown restrictions, the self-reflection about my reasons behind distance from home was a constant in my thoughts. As an immigrant, you always have nostalgic moments and dream to be back home someday. For a while, we were restricted to 2 Km to travel. That was a challenging period, and it still is for some of us. At the moment, seeing family and getting to hug them means a long and complicated trip with provisions and restrictions, at least for us with a required trip of least 22 hours and 3 changes of planes. However, living and working in another country comes with both pros and cons. My conclusion and learning is that it has been worth it all - for the adventure, challenges and growth (personally and professionally), and for the opportunities we hope to give to the next generation of this family.