Looking forward to the next generation of additive manufacturing applications? Join Tom Costabile’s discussion with Barbara Humpton, President & CEO, Siemens Corporation as she discusses their vision of the future and what actions are being taken today and what will be next.
– Good afternoon, everyone. I’m Tom Costabile, Executive Director and CEO of ASME. And joining me today is a dear friend and a fellow collaborator in the engineering world, Barbara Humpton, who’s President and CEO of Siemens Corporation. Barbara, good afternoon, how are you?
– Hello friend, it’s great to be with you this afternoon.
– Well, thank you again. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about one of my favorite subjects today and that’s the engineering workforce and what we’re doing. I know you’ve got quite a lot going on and we will segue, I promise you went to one of my favorite questions about how do we get more females in our profession. But to start out Barbara, you and I have chatted a little bit about the next generation of engineering and more importantly, additive manufacturing applications. Give us your perspective on how this technology is advancing and as you said, how will companies respond?
– I love this topic because, I think this is one of those game changers that is soon going to be taking us by storm. We’ve definitely seen that particularly in the U.S, additive manufacturing has begun to take hold, and we actually have the greatest participation in additive manufacturing in the U.S than any region around the world, from the perspective of Siemens. That’s what my data is showing me. And when we look at what’s going on with additive, it gives us an opening to do things that simply weren’t possible before. And so we view it as a technology that’s going to really enhance our sustainability. It’s gonna make new kinds of products available to us, and it’s going to help make real this concept of glocalization, the idea that, you know, we can design things globally and then actually manufacture them locally. Looking forward to seeing the changes that come.
– Yeah, I agree with you, you know, I’m sure you’re aware that UPS has been spending quite a lot of time looking at additive manufacturing in their distribution centers around the world. So as you suggest, a brilliant set of engineers and technicians would create a part, you would ship a file to the location and then they would print and ship the part from that particular area. It’s happening and it’s right there. You know, one of my favorite things about being an engineer is that when we solve a problem that’s easy, nature requires us to make it more difficult. And now that we have technology with us, talk a little bit about the skill sets and the competencies that you see that will continue to drive technology forward.
– Yeah, well, first of all, it’s important that we recognize that the world abides by the laws of physics, the laws of nature. And so really continuing to keep a focus on science-based curricula and getting people educated in the science behind all the things we do, that’s absolutely essential. But the new tools of tomorrow give us the ability to actually enact things that we’ve never been able to do. With the sheer computing power of the digital world we’re in. So that’s exciting. And so a couple of years ago, Siemens actually convened a discussion at our technology headquarters, where we do basic research and engineering, and we pulled researchers as well as professors from surrounding universities. Princeton, Rutgers, so we’re in Princeton, New Jersey, invited them to a dialogue about what are the critical skills required for the future. And here I was expecting things about data analytics and, you know, artificial intelligence and you know what I heard? Curiosity and initiative.
– And when you think about it, it’s brilliant. You know, if a person can bring to the table, that sense of curiosity, and then take the initiative to learn, honestly, they can go anywhere. So this is what I’m focused on.
– That’s great. You know, it’s interesting as you say that, ’cause the ASME has been deeply involved as you know, in the K through 12 stem education. In your mind, how do you excite a young man or a young woman that’s in middle school to become involved in engineering sciences?
– Yeah, I think actually we’ve got some secret weapons today that can actually help. There are a lot of people, you know, we’ve been struggling with this whole issue of people telling themselves they’re not good at math. But ask people, are they good at video games? And you get a totally different answer, right? And so we’re starting to see the gamification of engineering become a factor in exciting young people in pursuing an education that ultimately will lead into the fields that you and I care so passionately about. So I’m excited about that, the idea that we can sort of demystify this world we’ve been operating in, and keep people engaged in new and different ways.
– I would agree with you, Barbara, you know, it segues into another topic that we frequently hit, that’s called multidisciplinary training. So when I look at it in terms of a lot lately, especially through this last year, a lot of discussions have happened with regards to interdisciplinary engineering teams. What do you say at Siemens that you all are doing towards more multi disciplinary or interdisciplinary training?
– Yeah, this is one of the other major trends that’s going on in business today. The idea that we get more done as an ecosystem, right? The idea that if we can create platforms where others can come and create value for their end customers, we actually all grow. And so, I mean, a simple way that I like to describe this to people is this, the future is networked not hierarchical. And what we’re finding is that, you know, when we used to organize people into teams like you are engineers, you are programmers, you are the business people. Yeah, you find people specialize in stuff. That’s a factory oriented approach to, you know, solving big system problems. And when instead we think in terms of a network, by the way, nature is a network, right? So when we think in terms of a network and draw interdisciplinary skills together, I mean, I hope this audience is finding this in their day-to-day experience as well. You actually get incredible aha moments. You get idea generation, you get, you know, the ability to actually look at a problem for more perspectives and ultimately get a better solution. I mean, we saw it over the last two decades with the creation of agile approaches where we would create scrum teams with, you know, multidisciplinary backgrounds that’s far more effective at building effective end products than the old system processing, you know, inputs and output, months later.
– Yeah. Yeah, and again, when I see what technology today that allows us to work smarter and you get in quicker results and the ability to enhance or improve the efficiency of it or the economics of it, it happens in a very much shorter period of time. I credit that all to that interdisciplinary understanding of what’s there.
– Well, yeah, and actually, let me just pause and comment on something that I think is really helping in this whole arena and that’s software.
– You and I’ve spoken before about the power of software to help engineers, you know, come up with optimal kinds of designs. And the idea of generative design, for instance, you know, in encapsulating, all of the, sort of combined knowledge of engineering that we have recognizing you can’t have an army of engineers working on every project but, the engineering knowledge can be incorporated into tools that will help us do modeling and simulation, test out, multiple variables to look for the best possible outcome. My favorite story is a team of engineers in Hungary, working for Siemens over the last several years, working on the idea of electric propulsion for aviation and many in this audience may know this story, that Siemens was one of the first to build an electric motor capable of lifting an aircraft from the ground and reaching great heights. And as the team worked to, you know, remove weight from that motor, as they work to improve cooling and overall efficiency, one of the key things they did was rather than say, go build this. They actually asked some of our Siemens software, what would be the optimal design to fulfill these parameters? So something like a cooling jacket, right? The team had a concept of what it should look like. And in fact, they had a little competition amongst themselves, with one engineer saying, I think it looks like this, another engineer saying, I think it looks like that. Then feeding it into the generative design algorithms encapsulated into that version of our software. What came out was something no one had conceived of, and yet it performed beautifully. So this is the world where in now where you can take our know-how, but then put us on, you know, turbocharge with some software tools that can give us the opportunity to test thousands of designs, not just one where we have a hunch, but dozens of designs. And so seeing all of this play out in real life has been a thrill.
– That’s great. And I would agree with you my experience of dating back to when I was practicing engineering in the 80s and 90s, Siemens has always been in the forefront of the software. I say that as a fact and I know that ’cause working there and it’s one that you should be very proud of. So let’s change a little bit and talk about workforce diversity. So workforce diversity is often cast as a fairness issue, but there’s a strong case to be made that enhancing workforce diversity, equity and inclusion, is good for business. Research indicates that diversity perspectives lead to more innovative solutions, as you just said, and more inclusive than talent pools, raise the bar for everybody. What’s the business case for Siemens. And how do you go about doing that, you know, in a company the size of Siemens?
– Well, I mean, first things first, first, if you accept the premise that talent is equally distributed across humanity, then you know, it leads you naturally to asking, well then why don’t I have the best talent at Siemens? Why don’t I have access to top talent, men, women, young, old, you know, I want the smartest people in the world working with me on the problems that I’m trying to solve ’cause they matter. So that’s the first question is, am I reaching the people where they are? And that leads to the your question about, what do we do to bring more people in early? How do we educate people? how do we identify them early? And so one of the privileges of my role is that I get to serve as the Chairman of the Siemens Foundation, whose mission is absolutely dedicated to igniting the passion of future engineers and scientists so that more people grow up thinking, I’m a candidate for that kind of work. We’ve got to make sure the candidate pool is there and ready, but then, you know, what I’ve discovered working in engineering organizations my entire career is that we do tend to go to certain places looking for talent. And we assume that, hey, if we want the top talent, these are the places to look. And what we’re doing right now is beginning to question that, and we’re using community groups who reach out into different segments of the population who may not even know who Siemens is. And so by simply looking in the right places, looking where the people are, as opposed to where we used to think they were, we’re getting access to a different pool of talent. And then having leaders in our organization have great experiences with diverse talents who join our organization. And people discovering that, oh my heavens, you know, how was I overlooking the fact that there are people from this source who bring so much to our organization. That’s a game changer. So great experiences in hiring and at suddenly doors are opening. And in the past, if people said, hey, look, talent looks like me. Now, they’re being challenged to say, who doesn’t look like me, who actually may have the talent to come and work for us.
– Yeah, I agree with you. And that’s a strong message that, you know, leadership by example, brings the point home. You and I talked about skill technical jobs for those individuals in the two year degree or other training certificates, as you’re aware that ASME is currently launching an initiative to create these types of pathways through the community college system, Siemens has a very active program in this area. Share with the audience a little bit of what’s currently going on. I was impressed when they heard about it.
– Well, yeah, I mean, so you can think about everything from granting software to educational institutions. Siemens currently is engaged with over a hundred thousand academic institutions at all levels. You know, working to ensure that the engineers of the future have access to the best technology we can provide. We want them to come through their educational experience, asking their employers to please bring these products into the workplace, because, you know, we know that’s gonna make the whole system more effective. You add to that the idea that, you know, what used to be needed in this environment was a four year degree. What we’ve learned is as we hire for say, trades, at the 26 manufacturing sites we have in the U.S, it turns out the skills you need can be learned both with some educational background and then some hands-on training. And a lot of people do need both the traditional manufacturing skills plus the new digital engineering skills of the future. Put that together in a two year college, a community college experience, and they’re ready for a job at Siemens. And this idea that there are multiple pathways is really exciting ’cause now we can talk to people at any point in their lives. Moms maybe coming back into the workplace after taking time with kids, dads doing the same thing, by the way, veterans, military veterans, coming and joining us, all of these pathways are open now and available. That’s exciting. But I wanna just actually turn the lens around Tom, and congratulate you all, because this is one reason that Siemens was so excited to be part of engineering for change. You know, the idea of working with SME, making sure that we tee up a challenge for budding engineers and to actually focus a challenge on two of the sustainable development goals. You know, it really brought out a lot of creativity and it’s these kinds of true hands-on opportunities for engagement that I think get us connected to the workforce of the future.
– Well, Barbara, thank you. And thank you for mentioning ERC. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the 90 minute session where we showcased five of our ERC fellows. What a neat group of individuals, a very diverse group in every aspect, but just brilliant. And the articulation, the way they spoke about what they were doing, it energized me as you know, it truly it was yet another path to solving our global crisis.
– And Tom, can I just tell you, I hear a lot of talk these days, especially these days as we’re coming out of the coronavirus crisis. By the way, we’re not out of it yet.
– Yes, unfortunately.
– And the workforce issues, you know, are persistent and you hear a lot of talk about money, and I’m here to tell you that I believe the most compelling reason for people to get into engineering is less about money and it’s more about purpose. And the ERC participants really, really exemplify this. I mean, the kind of passion for the future and creating change that will absolutely improve quality of life around the world, raise people out of poverty, feed and ensure fresh water for the world. I mean, I think this is what drives so many engineers. And so at Siemens, what we’re doing in terms of our, you know, appeal, in quote, where the jobs are in, is helping people understand the purpose that drives Siemens, how we’re working on the global mega trends, climate change, urbanization, the aging demographic of humanity, these things that drive our business strategy are exactly the same things that ignite that passion in your constituents.
– Yeah, you’re right, Barbara, you know, I had a conversation today with the group about our current position is current position on climate change. And as much has changed if you look at it, unfortunately being here in Texas, I was at a part of that, to that whole debacle back in February, and what to do with the climate change. ‘Cause then you have human error that comes into it. But, you know, as engineers, that’s an easy problem for us to solve.
– And then now, by the way, it just doesn’t only apply here to the one power grid, it can apply to a power grid across any area. But that’s the power of engineering in my mind.
– Segue to one of my favorite subjects, women in engineering.
– As you know, more than half of the U.S college educated workforce is female, but why do women only represent 15% of the engineering workforce? And what pains me is only about 9% of the mechanical engineering workforce. When I left Manhattan college, graduated Manhattan college way back in 1975, my class was the first class to graduate a female engineer. Claudia Lottie went on to become a very successful individual in the entire industry. And we’re still friends to the state a few years later. Again, the estimate has got several philanthropic programs that we’re pushing to improve this. What do you think are the barriers to women pursuing an engineering career? And what can we do to break down these barriers?
– Yeah, we’ve been talking a little bit about the proactive things that we’re doing within the Siemens corporation. The idea that one of the key messages that we really have to work on, and you may say, Barb, this sounds really woo woo to me, but is very real is the question of, do you feel like you belong? I mean, it’s a very simple question, but it’s so profound because I do believe a lot of people have the experience of joining an organization and just, you know, having a sense of either, I belong here or I don’t fit in. So actually a conscious and intentional focus on belonging can be a really powerful framework for getting an organization that actually needs engineering talent to think its way through. What would make somebody feel that sense of belonging? Well, for me, you know, and I think for a lot of people who love science and technology, it’s the ability to be part of solving problems. When you come together in a group, you know, are you engaged? Do people want your input? Are they asking you, your opinion about things? Early in my career, I had the good fortune of working with teams who just left, you know, any impression of Barbara, the female, at the door, and it was Barbara, the problem-solver. Barbara, the enthusiastic, energetic, you know, catalyst for action. And so I had the fun of participating in solving some of the world’s biggest problems, the global positioning system, border security with customs and border biometrics for the FBI, right? So you know, as we think through this, one of the key questions we have to ask is, how do we create a sense of belonging for the people around us? And a term that I learned in the wake of George Floyd’s killing was the concept of micro affirmations.
– The idea of just the little things that we do day in and day out that make people feel part of the whole. And I’ll tell you, you exercise this. Every time I’ve met with you, Tom, you’re just one of those generous souls who thinks about how Barb is feeling about things today and asking inclusive questions. It’s a powerful tool. And one that I think engineers should not underestimate. Let me put it that way.
– I agree with you Barbara, and thank you for your kind words. But to me, that’s just me being me. I grew up that way in New York city as an inner city kid and the diversity, equity, inclusion, it’s like, if you wanna play hard and work hard, that’s trying to force there’s nothing else matters. It’s that part that I’ll ask you the question, is diversity and inclusion, a continuous process?
– Oh, I think this is gonna be with us always. This is actually one of the things I’ve grown a real appreciation for this working for a global corporation, because the things that we think of here in the U.S, you know, as the hurdles and the I’ll call them the defining parameters around diversity, equity, inclusion, it’s a very different calculus in different parts of the world. You know, male, female, ethnic diversity, gosh, sexual preferences, you know, all the kinds of things that we talk about here are spoken about elsewhere in the world, but with different, you know, basic baselines associated with them. And so as we continue to morph and change as nations, as we continue to change the way we do business around the world, I think the parameters will continue to change. And it’s important for us to keep thinking about, I think we’re gonna have to keep this top of mind forever.
– Yep, I agree with you. I’ll tell you one of the things that I instituted last year at ASME, part of the executive compensation program on the other side, one of the five qualities is a diversity, equity, inclusion goal. And again, I’m a firm believer about, instead of talking about it, let’s go do something about it and let’s make it happen. And I’m pleased to report. We’ve come a long way in a short period of time. We’ve got a lot more to do, but there’s still a lot of time that this can happen.
– Well, I’m counting on you because you know, this network that you are stewarding so well is key to the success of businesses like ours. So thanks for all you’re doing there.
– Well, thank you. Siemens has been a great part and you, you continue to be a great friend. I owe you a favor for this last minute fireside chat, but I couldn’t think of anybody more up to speed and more positive about talking about the workforce tomorrow than Barbara Humpton , so thanks to you-
– There’s one thing I wanna make sure you noticed, my bookshelf. Whoops, did I knock it over? Do you see my-
– I see it, I see it, yeah.
– When I was in Salt Lake City with you at the Congress and expo, I mentioned how much I love, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” And the audience says, oh, an NPR listener, and you sent me this book, thank you so much.
– You’re welcome, you’re welcome. Barbara thank you, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, please extend the heartfelt thanks to your staff from all of us. Debbie Goldman AUM Industry staff, has done a great job today. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say on behalf of all of us at ASME to our audience today, thank you very much for joining us. It’s been a very successful conference. It’s because of groups like yourself, that we can make a difference. Together, we will make a difference. Barbara, enjoy the rest of your day. And ladies and gentlemen, thank you again for joining us at this AM Industry Summit. Take care.