Women in automation inspiring change: Maryam Emami’s story
By Sukanya Ray Ghosh
In an industry that remains male-dominated, women work hard to establish themselves as leaders. Three women from the manufacturing automation sector share how their passion for this industry motivates them every day and the challenges they faced on the path to success.
This is Maryam Emami’s story.
CEO and founder, AI Materia
and science in high school charted the way for her career in the manufacturing and technology sector.
Maryam started her college career in Chemical Engineering, in the field of petroleum processing. With a keen interest to find meaningful solutions, Maryam went on to study advanced manufacturing and advanced materials when pursuing her PhD.
Currently the CEO of AI Materia, Maryam shares the story of how the company was created.
“Within material design problems, we are always trying to understand how we go from raw ingredients and treatment processes to a set of desired target properties in our product. My colleagues and I have been working in this field for many years, using experimental and computational approaches. With recent advancements in data science, we realized there are more efficient ways to engineer better materials. By using technical data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, we are able to accelerate the materials development process up to 10 times faster.”
Before founding AI Materia, Maryam had been working as a researcher and consultant for the advanced materials and advanced manufacturing industry. The technology and solutions that the company offers today are the result of the experience gained from the work she did then.
“We know for a fact that there are certain problems in the industry and we try to address them. It is exciting to be a part of a revolutionary solution that can change the face of the future. ,” she says.
Research remains a big part of the work at AI Materia. Novelty and contribution to the knowledge of these research projects keep Maryam motivated and engaged.
Entrepreneurship and building a company have been both rewarding and challenging, says Maryam. She believes every challenge is an opportunity for learning, for growth and for improvement. The company faced its share of ups and downs. Maryam shares that they needed to execute a massive market research and find out the right solution that fit the needs of their customers.
“There were other parts as well, such as bringing the right people on board and building a good culture. When running a business, you have to learn how to navigate through a lot of challenges, to figure out how to address them. Every challenge demands a different solution. But there are resources and people that can be very helpful in different scenarios for you,” explains Maryam.
For Maryam, her parents were her first and most impactful mentors. At an early age, they taught her the engineering approach to face every challenge – to be strategic, efficient and pragmatic. They encouraged her to not give up under any circumstances. In her engineering career, she was fortunate to come across other helpful mentors.
“We need more women in this field. We need their voices, we need their opinions and perspectives on what the important problems are in the world of engineering.”
“I worked with amazing supervisors, managers and great colleagues. I never had a conscious strategy for finding mentors but I never hesitated to seek advice from people around me,” she says.
Maryam adds that having a mentor is very helpful as they guide from their experiences. They know what mistakes could be avoided and the do’s and don’ts of situations, so there is no need to start from the first step. People often have different approaches to tackle different scenarios and situations, she adds.
Research is something that excites Maryam the most. “There are plenty of reasons to love research. Research makes you think differently to create new knowledge. It is challenging. It stretches the mind to think of new ideas, new reasons, and new possibilities. Every project feels like a new adventure. It’s exciting to be a part of a journey to innovate and open up the potential to make contributions to individuals and communities. ,” she says.
Maryam shares that engineering still remains a male-dominated area. This means that young women in the country have fewer female role models, mentors and leaders that they can look up to. This could make it difficult for the young generation of female engineers.
“There’s nothing male about the engineering field, it is one of the professions that can actually claim it changes the world. We need more women in this field. We need their voices, we need their opinions and perspectives on what are the important problems in the world of engineering,” she adds