Meet the Team!
Ryan Richards is a mechanical engineer and FEA analyst at MJ Engineering. “Our job is to help make sure things like amusement park rides are safe, and machines function as intended,” says Ryan, who helps examine new and existing CAD models to determine whether they are structurally sound and if any design changes are required. The variety and unique nature of the projects are what Ryan loves about working at MJ Engineering, where he interned for two summers before being hired last spring. “My first day here, I was working on a vision inspection system,” says Ryan, “and the next day I was learning how to make a firetruck safe.” Ryan, who grew up in Central Ohio, earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2018. He says the work he does at MJ Engineering relates directly to what he learned in school, and that it’s an exciting time to work in a tech-savvy city like Columbus. “The breadth of work that we get is indicative of the fact that people are currently rethinking how they used to do things, redesigning old tools, and even concepting new ones,” he says. Another thing Ryan likes about MJ Engineering is the family atmosphere.
Fun facts: When he is not at work, Ryan is most likely outdoors. He loves running, biking, swimming, and snowboarding, and he has even hiked part of the Appalachian Trail. Ryan also loves to do aerobatic and formation flying in private planes
Brian Vagnone is a lead technician responsible for electrical and mechanical assembly at MJ Engineering. He also does programming and other general duties in the shop. Brian was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He says he knew he wanted to work for MJ Engineering while he was contracting for them. “It seemed like a really good company to work for,” he says, “small but capable, with a chance to do different activities and not be stuck in one area.” So when an opening became available recently, Brian seized the opportunity to join the team full time—and he is happy he did. Brian describes his job as “a nice balance of everything,” saying what he likes most about working at MJ Engineering is the freedom and openness. “You can talk to everybody, and if you have a question, you can go to that person and get answers,” says Brian. “Everybody is cool here, and we work together to come up with the best solution to solve problems.” Brian is currently working on an automated machine that puts a gasket on a clip.
Fun facts: At home, Brian enjoys cooking and making things, in part because they are skill sets from which
he can learn and grow. Brian also enjoys the outdoors, fishing, running, working out, relaxing, and socializing.
MJ Engineering Helps High Schoolers Build Better Robots
A local high school robotics team soared all the way to the FIRST® Championship in Detroit, Michigan, this spring, thanks in part to financial support from MJ Engineering. Based out of New Albany, Ohio, The Digital Eagles 5667, also known as NAHS Robotics, is a high school FIRST® Robotics Team “devoted to helping young people and communities discover, develop, and apply their passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (nahsrobotics.org).” The FIRST® robotics competition is a six-week program for high-school students, where they must build 120-pound robots that can complete tasks. With the funding received from supporters like MJ Engineering, the team came up with a successful design, which earned them the 20th spot at their first competition last fall. They were also first runner up for a Safety Award. After making some improvements, the Digital Eagles became Regional Finalists and won the Chairman’s Award at their second competition. The team earned a respectable 29/68 ranking at the Championship in the Tesla Division, and they are already gearing up for next year.
MJ Engineering is a big proponent of educating and inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in engineering. Over the past few years, company employees have traveled to high schools to give presentations about roller coasters and other exciting engineering applications, judged regional DECA competitions, which prepare students for their professional careers, and spoken to OSU engineering students about what it means to be an engineer.
The next generation was also a topic of discussion, among many, at FANUC America’s 20th annual Authorized System Integrator (ASI) Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, earlier this year. Specifically, a panel discussion revolved around the next generation of manufacturing personnel, focusing on high schools and technical colleges that are trying to graduate people with experience in the robotics industry. FANUC is one of the largest makers of industrial robots in the world, and they supply many of the robots MJ Engineering uses in the automated systems they design. MJ Engineering President Richard Wand was in attendance. “The purpose of the conference is to get integrators together to talk about the status of the market, new products FANUC is coming out with, and how we might be able to implement those products,” he said. The two-day conference hosted a variety of speakers, including the president and CEO of FANUC. A marketing expert talked about the current status of the market and provided overviews of the automation industry. A third-party economist discussed the state of the economy and its impact on the market and ability to get new projects. Attendees also learned a lot about the FANUC product line, new applications and versions of robots they are coming out with, things they are doing to make their robots easier to use, competitive products, collaborative robots, innovative systems being produced, and safety and collaboration within the automation industry. Finally, FANUC showed videos of its planned new, 420-thousand squarefoot facility, which will allow them to increase their spare parts and robot volumes in the US and shorten their lead times to delivery. “They are willing to put their money where their mouth is,” said Richard, who also attended FANUC America’s annual ASI Product & Application Sales Training event in June at FANUC’s US headquarters in Rochester Hills, Michigan. The event was targeted specifically toward integrator team members in a selling role or those involved in the sales process.