6 CapNY Gen Zs & Millennials in Manufacturing Careers

Manufacturing and technology have been driving CapNY’s economy for more than a century.

Backed by local Research & Development (R&D) centers at the Colleges of Nanoscale Science & Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, GE Global Research, Albany Medical Center and the Pharmaceutical Research Institute, local companies across CapNY are able to retain their competitive advantages in the global marketplace.

Manufacturers at Work

Within CapNY, key technology and manufacturing career opportunities have been growing at an enormous rate. So, we’ve decided to interview six professionals who work in manufacturing – in direct and support roles – from three local companies with global impact; to hear from them about why they got into their line of work, the distinct rewards and challenges of it, and how being a part of the CapNY community has impacted their growing careers. One thing these Gen Z & millennial pro’s all seemed to have in common…they are thrilled to be part of an industry that has completely taken off and they cannot wait to see how their careers grow with it. See for yourself…read the profiles of each individual below.

Tiffany Hernandez, GlobalFoundries

Job Title: Engineer, Factory Automation
Age: 22
Hometown: Albany, NY and her family is from Puerto Rico
Currently Lives In: Malta

As home to a dynamic convergence of innovation, R&D and manufacturing, CapNY has emerged as a major global hub for development, commercialization and production of advanced electronics and semiconductors.  At GlobalFoundries, thousands of skilled professionals are developing and producing next generation technology here that power and connect our lives in the global marketplace. Learn more about this industry here.

Tiffany, please give us a little bit of background surrounding GlobalFoundries and your role.

GlobalFoundries® (GF®) is one of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers. GF chips are in laptops, cell phones, and even automobiles.

I started working at GF’s manufacturing site and headquarters in Malta, NY, about two and a half years ago as a Maintenance Technician and have worked my way up to my current role of Equipment Engineer in the Automation department by asking for the opportunity to help the engineers with projects.

On a normal day, I check in with the team on the floor to see if any vehicles are down (the little robots that deliver products from tool to tool), see what parts they may need, and ensure that regular preventative maintenance is being performed. I also work with vendors to make sure that parts are being kept in stock. In addition, there are continuous improvement projects, such as second sourcing materials for cost savings and things of that nature.

What do you enjoy most about your line of work?
Tiffany out enjoying the beautiful apple orchards of CapNY!
Tiffany out enjoying the beautiful apple orchards of CapNY!

When I first started, I would have said the coolest part was working with the robots. It was awesome to be able to fix them and see them travel around the ceiling. Now that I work directly with the tools, it’s very satisfying to see all the back-end processes that go into keeping the fab running.

I also really enjoy seeing the people on the team succeed. I was able to help one of my colleagues get into an electronic repair shop job with GF, and it’s something he’s really passionate about. It’s good to move up the ladder, but it’s also nice to bring others up with you…that’s what I try to do here.

Shalani Stockton, GE Renewable Energy

Shalani Stockton

Job Title: Wind Fleet Engineer, NA Fleet Reliability Operations
Age: 26
Hometown: McAllen, TX
Currently Lives In: Schenectady

Home to New York’s northern-most, year round seaport with critical rail connections, and located at the nexus of interstates 87 and 90 providing accessibility to multi-state supply chains, CapNY stands as a strategic offshore wind component manufacturing and staging location. New York ranks second for clean tech patents, first for wind patents and fifth for U.S. Department of Energy R&D funding. GE Renewable Energy is one of the companies making an impact in this space. Learn more about the industry here.

Shalani, how did you end up in this field/line of work? What do you find rewarding about it?

I work at GE Renewable Energy in Onshore Wind Digital Services for the Composites Team in Fleet Reliability Operations. In this role, I work on a team of engineers that supports the operating fleet of wind turbines in North America to develop solutions to potential issues, and address questions from sites to keep the turbines in operation and producing power. Day to day, we utilize our material expertise, blade design knowledge, site history, and experience to aid wind turbine sites in the evaluation of the health of their turbines to ensure they are generating clean power optimally and safely.

Hiking the ADKs!

After studying mechanical and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA I decided that I wanted to utilize my engineering background in an industry that was creating positive change and helping the planet. I previously interned at GE Aviation in college and knew that GE was a great place to work, and GE’s renewable sector offered a unique opportunity for a career related to my passion for the environment and conservation.

Two years later, the reward of working in a field that is supporting positive change is just as great. Every day we are faced with the challenging task of “keeping the lights on,” but working with a great team to support the operating fleet of turbines makes that challenge manageable.

What’s your favorite thing about living and working in CapNY?

The accessibility to nature. It’s an easy drive to the Adirondacks where you can hike or take a boat on the lake. I play in outdoor volleyball leagues and tournaments in the warmer months. I love the greenery of the region and try to be outside as much as I can.

Mary Coyne, GE Renewable Energy

Job Title: Commercial Leader, Offshore Wind
Age: 30
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
Currently Lives In: Saratoga Springs

Mary, tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up here.
Mary and her husband in front of the offshore turbines at Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island.
Mary and her colleague in front of the offshore turbines at Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island.

I went to college out in the Midwest, and joined the Navy submarine force after graduating, so I’ve lived all over the place! This includes Charleston SC, Groton CT, Notre Dame IN, Washington DC, and Seattle WA. Currently I live in Saratoga Springs, NY with my husband and our dog and I absolutely love it.

I ended up here through sheer chance, if you can believe it! When I was getting out of the military, I was very concerned about starting a new job without fully understanding what I was signing up for (and not liking it). So I focused on finding a company that had a program designed for professional exploration in an industry I was excited about. GE Renewable Energy was the perfect fit, and I started back in September of 2019! I’ve had about 3 different roles before this current one, all in different parts of the onshore wind industry.

This current role I started back in May, and it’s on our brand-new US offshore wind team. The industry itself is very challenging since it’s so new: a lot of the elements we have to consider in constructing and servicing offshore wind turbines don’t have support/supply/operational networks yet! But the exciting side of that same coin is that we get to shape what that industry will look like for the coming decades. Making sound, realistic decisions and laying a solid foundation for a massive future industry is very daunting, but I can’t think of a better group of people to get the ball rolling.

What do you enjoy most about working for GE Renewable Energy?
Block Island Sunset
Block Island Sunset

Two things – Flexibility and veteran support. GE is incredibly supportive of a flexible work/office balance and in its employees trying new roles within the organization. Not only is remote work normal, but so is trying new jobs every few years or so. In fact, this is widely encouraged, as we always need new, fresh perspectives in our business! This was appealing to me because I know I’m a person that will want to try something new every few years, including international roles, and that is very much a possibility here!

Teresa Fulcher, GE Renewable Energy

Teresa Fulcher, GE Renewable Energy

Job Title: Account Development Leader
Age: 28
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Currently Lives In: Schenectady

Teresa, what’s your role at GE?

My current role is in wind turbine field service sales for customers who own/operate wind turbines in North America. My role is essentially to construct proposals for repair and upgrade services for wind turbine components and wind farm operations. To do this, I work closely with the customer to understand their priorities, then scope out the services needs including components, cranes, crews, and software. Then finally I work with my commercial team to provide strategic pricing and terms to give the customer the best value and optimize GE’s capabilities. 

What’s challenging about the field you work in?

The main challenge is that the wind market is accelerating exponentially right now which is difficult to keep up with but rewarding to know we are part of something innovative and leading industry standards!

You’re a recent CapNY transplant, tell us about the move.

I relocated from San Diego to Schenectady in March of 2020 and needless to say was not met with the warmest welcome when I had to unpack my apartment during state lock-down.  That said, the best personal benefit of the past year has all the nature I’ve been able to take advantage of – hiking, camping, skiing, kayaking – and road trips to small towns that I think I would have bypassed otherwise. The diverse and (relatively) long history in this area keeps things interesting everywhere I go. 

Nathan Venner-VanSleet, Plug Power

Nathan Venner-VanSleet, Plug Power

Job Title: Production Supervisor
Age: 39
Hometown: Saratoga Springs, NY
Currently Lives In: Sacandaga Lake

Plug Power is the leading provider of clean hydrogen and zero-emission fuel cell solutions that are both cost-effective and reliable.

Nathan, what’s rewarding and challenging about your role?

We have a family mentality here at Plug Power. There’s always someone willing to help you out. They’ve helped my career grow. We work across department lines a bit, but we all work together for the purpose of streamlining our processes. I’ve been able to work my way up the ladder quickly here. I started working with Plug Power in a temporary position and now I’ve been here for four years.

It can be challenging to keep up with the ever growing production goals of this company. We’re looking to expand our company and continue to train our current staff to help grow the fuel cell industry.

Diana Polli, Plug Power

Job Title: Manager, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering
Age: 33
Hometown: Chester, NY
Currently Lives In: Latham

Diana Polli, Plug Power
Diana, how’d you get into this field?

I grew up around horses and that’s what got me into manufacturing and engineering. We had all sorts of equipment on the farm and I always helped my dad. My brother and I were always out on four wheelers, building forts, and I realized that for a career I wanted to design and build things.

What drew you to Plug Power?
Hiking in the ADK’s. Diana also has a boat on Saratoga Lake.

The opportunity for growth. The shift from carbon emissions and focus on the decarbonization of the world and the role Plug Power plays is pretty intriguing. When I interviewed here, they told me about the major growth they were going to experience. We are well positioned to be successful and expand. Plug is the future. We’ve found our direction and our executive team is full force about decarbonization and green hydrogen plants. We’re dominating the green energy market. We work in a fast paced and demanding environment, which is challenging but fun.

To learn more about the growing industries of CapNY, click here!

Written by: Gabby Fisher

Gabby is a serial entrepreneur living solo with her toy poodle, Mochi, in Schenectady.