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Bold Engineering

Latest NAM award reflects progressive leanings, even in manufacturing

Rashmi Vadlakonda, a manufacturing engineer at Trane Technologies, won a recent award from the National Association of Manufacturing and directly attributed her win to being a minority, both in gender and race. Vadlakonda "is making advancements in engineering and paving the way for more women of color to join her," reads a March 15 news release from the association. "That’s why she was recently recognized by the Manufacturing Institute’s 2023 Women MAKE Awards as an Emerging Leader."

The award: The Women MAKE Awards, formerly known as the STEP Ahead Awards, honor "top female talent in the industry while providing honorees with a platform to inspire other future industry leaders." Vadlakonda sees the honor as an opportunity to keep speaking up for people who are underrepresented.

“I believe that for young women in manufacturing, especially for me as an immigrant young woman of color … a title helps,” said Vadlakonda. “This award gives me that title [and] the courage that I need to speak up and say, ‘Hey, I have something to share, and I want you to listen to me. There’s a reason I was recognized.’”

She spent a few years in a corporate setting, according to NAM, "traveling to different offices and introducing advanced manufacturing technologies" prior to the pandemic. "That’s when she decided to pivot to working in a factory setting," reads the news release, which focuses on her appreciation for the factory setting:

“The factory is a basic building block of the manufacturing industry,” said Vadlakonda. “Coming from a research background, I wanted to understand how a factory functions, how the people there think, how different groups interact with each other, and what it takes to actually deliver a good product.”

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