Five Questions Friday with Rachel York of Applied Robotics, Inc.

RDY Name: Rachel Diane York

Title: Mechanical Draftsman

Job description: Responsible for routing and completion of Engineering Change/Support Requests submitted to the Engineering Department.

Company: Applied Robotics, Inc. Applied Robotics is a leading global provider of specialized end-of-arm tooling and connectivity solutions designed to meet unique application and market needs, and bringing new levels of flexibility and efficiency to bear on the industrial material handling process.

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

1) Why do you choose to do the work you do?
I grew up the only child of a man who could fix anything, almost to the point I would want to break things just to watch him work his magic.  Watching him tear things down and build them back up to something even better made me want to take everything apart, just to see how it worked. Worse case scenario: Dad could fix it.

My mother encouraged my curiosity; whenever something broke, a can opener, garage door opener, radio, lawn mower, whatever it was, she would always give me the chance to mend it before it was deemed a lost cause and handed off to my dad. My favorite part of what I do is seeing the ‘insides’ of machines and applying what I know about how one works to fix and improve, or even help create another. The greatest challenge of all is wanting to be a part of creating something that can’t be improved, simply because it was perfect the first time – come on, it could happen!

2) What is your proudest career moment?
To date, my proudest career moment was having over thirty people attend the Tech Valley SolidWorks Users Group (TVSWUG) inaugural meeting. When I was trying to get this group started, my main concern was that there would be little or no interest in my area, and I had never done anything like this before. I had just moved to the area, and I knew absolutely no one. I got in touch with several people from the SolidWorks Users Group Network (SWUGN, be sure to check out and they pointed me in the right directions. I came from a users group in San Antonio, Texas (SASUG) that definitely has the right idea–they are amazing.

I quickly learned that attending a meeting and coordinating a meeting are completely different beasts. Now, after about six months, we have almost a hundred members, and our February meeting had close to 50 people in attendance. I had hoped to find other people in my area who are also passionate about learning and sharing, but I couldn’t have imagined a cooler group of people. From hosting to providing presenters, our members have really gone out of their way to make this group a reality.

3) What goal inspires you?
One of our SWUGN goals for 2011 is to double our world wide attendance. I think this is particularly wonderful because, let’s be honest, who has the time to really go through training for this stuff? I know I certainly can’t take 3 or 4 days off and go to offsite classes, and I’ve had many people tell me they didn’t have time to make it to a SWUG meeting.

Sure, we can all find time to run through a tutorial when we can’t figure something out. And sure, we all have a friend we can call who will walk us through it, just this once; and I can’t possibly leave out my time spent searching the forums. But what I want to know is who can’t combine these efforts and find 3-4 hours every quarter to eat some dinner, meet new people, and most importantly, learn something useful? That’s only 16 hours each year.

Some groups even run between 8 and 12 meetings each year (WOW). There is no better resource than a group of people who deal with similar issues on a daily basis and I have never walked away from a users group without learning something I wanted to share. The idea of having twice as many people out there to share this experience motivates my efforts within my own group, and my personal goal to attend the other groups in my region.

4) How has SolidWorks made a difference in your life?
I know we’ve all heard this before, but it’s kept me employed. I moved to New York last year after my husband’s business relocated, but I had no real job prospects of my own. Because I had SolidWorks experience, I was here less than a month before I had an offer from Applied Robotics, Inc. In addition, SolidWorks has helped keep me interested; there seems to always be something more to learn that makes my job easier, and that just makes it all the more fun!

5)  What do you do for fun?
I love to play video games with my husband.  We are HUGE fans of the Halo series and play daily. In fact, we enjoy it so much we had a joint bachelor/bachelorette party at a Halo: Reach release tournament in September.  Our wedding cake toppers were Spartans we hand painted to match our online characters. I Am CoolGirl!!!


Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.