Elena Lopez, a pioneer in the fields of additive manufacturing and engineering, is someone you should meet.

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Nora Touré recently had the opportunity to speak with Elena Lopez, Head of Department for Additive Manufacturing at the Additive Manufacturing Center Dresden (AMCD) at Fraunhofer IWS and Regional Director Europe for Women in 3D Printing. Elena shared her journey in additive manufacturing and some interesting stories from her career.

Elena’s “AHA” moment with additive manufacturing came during her second maternity leave in 2013 when she was asked to manage a new and major project in the field of Additive Manufacturing coordinated by Fraunhofer IWS called Agent-3D. Despite having worked primarily in coatings and photovoltaics, Elena accepted the challenge and it turned out to be a pivotal moment for her. She gained a deep understanding of the AM market and its technological issues, which led her to become the head of the AM department at Fraunhofer IWS in 2017.

Since then, Elena has been managing around 30 scientists, technicians, and engineers within three different groups in the department. She also supervises master’s degrees and PhD theses and works as a lecturer for AM at various universities. Elena finds the combination of industrial insight from Fraunhofer and continuous access to updates in the state of the art through academic work fascinating. She often has “AHA moments” when discussing details with colleagues and industrial partners.

When asked about any interesting career stories, Elena shared that she once had the opportunity to meet Angela Merkel at a business event, and found her to be very inspiring.

In terms of hiring, Elena believes that intrinsic motivation is the most important quality in a candidate, even more so than their background or experience. If someone has a technical background and is highly motivated, Elena would be more than happy to welcome them to her team.

Finally, when asked about the best advice she has received in her career, Elena shared a quote that has stayed with her: “Open your mouth and steal the show in every meeting!”

Elena Lopez’s journey in additive manufacturing showcases the power of seizing opportunities and following one’s passion. Her “AHA” moment with AM during her maternity leave set her on a path of growth and success. With her dedication and enthusiasm, Elena continues to make a mark in the industry, inspiring others along the way.

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