Challenge is what drives Marina, ALTEN Nederland Software Developer for Smart Robotics. This engineer who specialises in robotics and automation did not hesitate to leave Spain, her country of birth, to go and study in the Netherlands. There she finished her Master’s in engineering in the prestigious Delft University of Technology.
This led to her meeting the ALTEN teams at a professional forum where she was offered a first project in the Netherlands: a professional and personal experience full of new challenges. Marina therefore set out to not only learn Dutch but also to develop robots, fascinating technological objects with so much to learn about their complexity and perfectibility.
Coding a robotic arm and reassessing human activity
“The project I am working on aims to create flexible solutions for the logistics industry. Our developments enable robotic arms to sort products, and organise stock and deliveries for e-commerce companies. As a Software Developer, my job is to programme new functions to implement in these robots”.
Marina is thus one of the human intelligences behind the behaviour of all these robots that correctly prepare and dispatch orders placed online to their recipients.
“Together with the teams, our mission then involves testing them and deploying them at client sites. When we talk about new functions we mean teaching the robot how to behave in the presence of humans, to make this movement, to grab this product, to put it on this conveyor to get to this production line, to integrate new equipment, for example such as a vacuum gripper designed for transporting particularly heavy items…”
Marina emphasises the important impact her work has on quality of work life for logistics operators: “The robots that we develop mean that humans can avoid doing tasks that are too dangerous, sometimes painful and often very time-consuming. These robotic arms therefore really help the operators in their everyday work, by saving them the physical effort and allowing them to refocus their activity on added value tasks… which improves their wellbeing at work!”. She takes pride in this fact.
First female engineer to join the project, but not the last!
In future Marina hopes to work as a System Architect to give her a more global vision of robotic systems , to better understand the technical interactions between hardware and software and therefore appreciate the result of her work more.
“Seeing a robot perform the functions that I have helped to develop at a client site is very rewarding as it is, but fully understanding how everything comes together at a system level would be even more rewarding!”.
This love of technology, that Marina has felt from a very young age when she started taking an interest in how machines work, surprised some of the people she worked with at first when she was the first female expert to join the project!
“Society’s perception is changing,” she insists. “I very quickly felt comfortable in my role because I soon proved that I had skills to bring to the team and the project”.
What advice would she give to young girls who may be hesitant to join engineering professions?
“More and more women are joining our teams…So if you like a challenge and cutting-edge technologies, prove the statistics wrong that suggest an under-representation of women in engineering and go for it!”.