Maja Hadžiselimović is a robotics and mechatronics engineer currently working in Augsburg (Germany), on projects of robot integration for cooperation with humans in the automotive industry and the development of the first European industrial exoskeleton. Maja is a member of the IT Girls initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and national coordinator of the European Robotics Week for BiH and a member of the Steering Committee of the euRobotics initiative. She is very committed to advocating for the greatest possible inclusion of young people, especially girls, in the field of STEM.
A few months ago, her life story was published in a publication about 25 successful German women engineers who motivate other women to try their hand in this field.
“The book was written by Sabrina von Nessen and Sandrine des Vries, exceptional female leaders. They wanted to collect life stories from women in tech fields from all over Germany and promote them as inspirational stories for younger generations. After telling them about my work in Germany and my role as National Coordinator for EU Robotics Week in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they became interested in my career, both professional and volunteering aspect. It is a great privilege to be featured in this book beside another 24 outstanding leaders, engineers, and role models. I hope this book will serve as an inspiration for young women to decide for career in robotics, technology, and IT”, explains Maja
MRK Systeme GmbH is one of the leading German companies in the field of development of robotic technology used in parts assembly processes in the automotive industry. The company’s technologies are used in their production processes by some of the leading companies in the German automotive industry, such as Daimler, MAN and Volkswagen.
“During my Master’s studies at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, I have decided to do internship in Germany. After finishing the internship, I did my master thesis in the same company, and afterwards, I continued working there. I have presented my master thesis project at Hannover’s biggest industrial fair as a finalist of the KUKA Innovation Award worldwide competition. That experience was a significant boost in my career and still one of my favorite projects”, Maja begins her life story.
When it comes to robotic engineering, the share of women is insignificant, and Maja is trying hard to change that. This situation makes it difficult for a small number of women to work in robotics.
“The percentage of women in my industry is pretty low. Therefore, I’m mostly the only woman in my team, and for most of my male colleagues, the first woman they are working with. I have to admit that I have a great team where my opinion is valued, my work is appreciated, and with diversity, we are creating the best possible solutions. Sometimes, mostly on fairs, it can be a bit challenging to explain and pursue someone that I programmed a robot or that I have an idea of what they are talking about. But, with the time, I learned how to deal with it, and now I’m using those moments to explain to them why it is essential to have diversity in teams”, adds Maja
Although one of the globally strongest industries in the world, the automotive industry has felt significant, negative consequences of the coronavirus. Given that many Bosnian & Herzegovinian companies are an integral part of the supply chain of the German car industry this presents a great challenge for the economy of BiH. Maja told us a bit more about the current situation in the automotive industry and her vision and solutions to the obstacles she has been facing in recent months during the pandemic.
“As we all know, the economic situation in the whole world is impacted by the current pandemic. The automotive industry is not an exception as some of the biggest companies have announced losing US$2.2 billion per week as a result of plant shutdowns. In the last couple of years, many automotive giants started cutting the costs and saving money for further investments, primarily focused on developing electric vehicles. Compared with the previous year, this time, the number of the sold car is far away from ideal and expected. Some experts say it will need around five years to come back to where we were before the pandemic started. Therefore, in my opinion, the automotive industry will slow down in the upcoming years, and the whole supply chain will feel it as well. In the very beginning, it was challenging to follow the annual work plan and projects’ timelines as most of the production lines were closed, and the supply chains were disrupted. The lock-down situation directly impacted the integrators of the robotics and automation systems. But, now, as for most industries, it became apparent how lock-down has to be replaced with more sustainable safety measures. In the automotive industry, despite the high number of robotics systems, there are still many workers working closely together. The production is still not in its full capacity, but at least the plants are operating. Thus, as soon as the production started and the lines are running, the accompanying companies can go back and work in full capacity. One of the lessons learned is for sure the advantage of having an alternative, flexible, and adaptable supply chain from within their regional borders”, points out Maja.
Digitalization has emerged as one of the most effective solutions to a wide range of business problems caused by a coronavirus. The success of a business in the current situation in many cases largely depends on the ability of a particular company to transfer as much of its business as possible to the digital environment. Maja also spoke about the challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic at the “Reconnect” conference organized by the “Restart” with the support of the USAID “Diaspora Invest” Project.
“This situation has shown us how being agile, adaptive, and ready for a change are the assets for bearing the pandemic or similar circumstances. More than nothing else, this pandemic promoted the digitalization as crucial for the work of the future. In this situation, we have noticed how having smart factories, remote robot programming and commissioning, remote connection with the robotics systems already installed would be a great tool to have. Every great solution comes out of a great problem. The same thing is with the COVID-19. We are witnessing an unexpected transition to the online world, which we need to accept and adapt fast. Education, work, health is just some of the systems that are experiencing both significant problems and challenges and exceptional solutions to overcome the safety measures and social distancing. Maybe the automotive industry is experiencing difficulties, but other production industries are positioning themselves as an excellent opportunity for higher automatization, such as pharmacy and service robotics”, explains our expert Maja Hadžiselimović at the end of our interview.