If the chemistry is right, so is the R&D 3 minutes spent reading
Employees

If the chemistry is right, so is the R&D

Christopher Eberl
Holds editorial responsibility for career topics and for the apprentice website. His stories offer insights into the world of work at voestalpine.

Armineh Avakemian also has a role in the new voestalpine image campaign, but her usual job is developing new types of high-strength cold-rolled strip in the Research Department at voestalpine Stahl GmbH. Team spirit is the basis here that enables new developments to flourish.

When Armineh Avakemian began working as a research developer at the voestalpine plant in Linz in 2013 after completing her dissertation, she was the second woman to join the team. Today there are a few more. But one thing has remained the same: “Each of us is responsible for certain steel grades, but we help each other and are always sharing information with each other. There’s no competition here, no petty jealousies. The chemistry is right and this team spirit is something special. It’s not taken for granted,” Avakemian says. She’s confident of that after having gotten a look inside a few other industrial companies during her studies in technical chemistry in Vienna.

"We help each other and are always sharing information with each other. There’s no competition there, no petty jealousies."

Isfahan, Vienna and Linz

The 38-year-old materials developer took an unexpected route before ending up at voestalpine. Her family is originally from Armenia and she spent her childhood and youth in the Iranian city of Isfahan. At 18 young Armineh left for Europe to travel the continent before she began her studies in the United States, where her siblings were already studying. That was the plan, anyway. But the trip and the plan came to an abrupt halt in Vienna – when love intervened. Then came Plan B: an intensive German course followed by a degree program at the Technical University of Vienna. Then she submitted an application in response to an advertised job vacancy at voestalpine – she was already aware of the company – and finally came the move to Linz, where she and her husband now live with their two children.

Armineh_1

Passion, persistence and many small steps

She probably inherited her passion for technology from her father, a graduate in process engineering. And today Armineh Avakemian is focusing her passion and dedication on researching ultra-high-strength steels, especially for the automotive industry. The cold-rolled strip developers need to demonstrate extreme toughness as well, since it takes an average of seven to ten years to take a concept all the way to use in a car in high-volume production. One important milestone on this path is approval from an automobile manufacturer, which can sometimes take two to three years. To get to that point many intermediate steps must be completed successfully, which ultimately make up the big “one step ahead” – from the first steel smelting and small-scale tests on mini lines to the many in-house and customer test procedures and, finally, high-volume production on the large lines in the plant. What’s more, Armineh Avakemian also manages a project for process optimization in the production of ultra-high-strength steels. Together with her colleagues in Production and Quality Assurance, she is making many small adjustments to improve the process.

"That’s what is exciting about it: You can never say for sure how a sampling or trial is really going to end."

Job, family and exercise

Even if you become more experienced over the years, there is no daily routine for cold-rolled strip development. “Every week brings a new challenge. That’s what is exciting about it: You can never say for sure how a sampling or trial is really going to end,” Avakemian laughs. But there’s one thing she can say for sure: “We have an open communication culture and our boss treats us equals. I feel I am in a good place, here in the team.” Her son and daughter are also in a good place – namely, at the voestalpine company kindergarten. Armineh’s leisure time is dedicated to her family and, sometimes, to exercise: At the moment she swears by High Intensity and Cross Fit training. This helps keep her mind clear for new tasks in Research and Development …

Christopher Eberl

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