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Legacy matters

Which is why it’s important to record and pass on tricks of the trade from legacy members of your organization. That’s what industrial engineer Shelby Smith does for AirBoss Engineered Products’ Manufacturing Engineering Team. She makes sure the AirBoss legacy is preserved and passed on. 

“I’m all about looking at a process [and] writing down that process so we can look at it and figure out if it’s the best way to do [something],” Shelby offers. “It’s looking at what we have, so that in the future we can see how to further improve it.”

But Shelby considers her job to be more than just paperwork, and she sees herself sticking around AirBoss to continue to learn and grow as a professional.

From Intern to Industrial Engineer

Shelby joined the AirBoss team as an engineering intern as she neared the end of college. It was a position that allowed her to focus both on school and getting a foot in the door of an international manufacturing company. To hear Shelby tell it, the internship paved the way to bigger and better things.

“I started at AirBoss as a product development engineering intern under [VP of Engineering] Jeff Auten in June 2020.” She continued in this role for almost a year and expressed her interest in a permanent position at AirBoss.

“Hey, I really want to work for AirBoss!” Shelby recalls telling them. “And they were like, that’s cool, but we don’t have an open position for you. But while you’re waiting, we do have a new manufacturing intern opening.” Shelby explains that even though she’d graduated, her AirBoss management team let her stay on until something opened up.

So, Shelby worked as a manufacturing intern under Manufacturing Engineering Manager, Robert Angeles. When a position finally did open up, it happened to be one working for Angeles as an industrial engineer.

“It worked out that there was an available position, they offered it to me, and I took it. I kind of knew that I wanted to go into manufacturing. I liked looking at the processes, seeing what we do, and trying to come up with ways to make it better.”

She then added, “I like learning from my boss and seeing how he looks at things, and I’d eventually like to be able to take his position.”

Why Preserving the Process is Important

“If I weren’t doing this, you wouldn’t have consistency,” Shelby says. She explains that her job makes it so AirBoss process knowledge isn’t kept only in the highest-level engineer’s head.

“If someone’s working at a press, but they don’t have a written process, or they don’t have pictures or videos, and that person leaves, then that knowledge goes with him or her.”

But, again, it’s more than just paperwork. Shelby points out that there’s more to her job than just writing down A-to-Z process instructions. The industrial engineer gets to know the people behind the processes in order to understand the components, costs, and time it takes to complete a task.

“My role relies heavily on being able to talk to employees and working with them, seeing what they do, and [recording] everything they know,” Shelby explains. “They know the [processes] better than anyone, and it’s my job to preserve that knowledge.”

“I know AirBoss isn’t a small company, but it’s not a huge corporation. I like knowing everyone’s name. I don’t know everybody, but I know enough people to feel comfortable talking to anyone and working with people so we can make something better.”

AirBoss employee Shelby Smith

Life Outside AirBoss for Shelby

When Shelby isn’t hard at work to preserve and help improve AirBoss processes, she can be found happily at home in her kitchen. Shelby is a self-deprecating avid baker who toes the line between professional and hobbyist. “I’m not some five-star chef, but I really like baking.”

“I’m getting married this year. I’m not sure if that’s a good answer,” Shelby jokes when asked what she does outside of AirBoss. “I also enjoy a little bit of video games.”

Shelby is quick to point out that while she’s not at the level of experience and expertise that her bosses are, she hopes to remain at AirBoss to continue to learn.

“I like learning about the rubber,” she says. “It’s not like you can go anywhere and do rubber. It’s kind of like we’re some secret club, and I like having that knowledge. I see myself sticking around. I have a long way to go.”

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