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Joshua Pickard is shaping the future of manufacturing automation

Author: UNB Engineering

Posted on Sep 27, 2023

Category: Inspiring Stories , UNB Fredericton , Engineering

In the dynamic world of engineering and innovation, individuals like Joshua Pickard (BScE12’, MScE’14, PhD’18) are making a significant impact. His journey from a small, quiet town in Woodstock, New Brunswick, to becoming one of the "Top 10 Under 40" in the Manufacturing Automation magazine is nothing short of inspirational.

While growing up, Joshua demonstrated a passion for automation “My parents would say at an early age I started pairing parts, remote-controlled vehicles, and rebuilding,” unknowingly setting the stage for his future career as an engineer. His path towards engineering became evident with his participation in robotics competitions hosted at UNB. His experience was incredibly enjoyable and influential, leading him to pursue Mechanical Engineering at UNB right after high school graduation.

Joshua stands as a testament to the effectiveness of UNB’s Co-op program; he believes this is the best opportunity UNB offers to engineering students. “Co-op has definitely been one of the best ways to secure the type of employment that you're looking for after graduation. Having that experience before you graduate puts you above anyone else who doesn't have that experience yet. That's what employers are looking for - someone with experience and drive."

Throughout his undergraduate studies, Joshua actively participated in the Co-op Program for two terms during the summer months. His real-world experience at Procter and Gamble in Belleville, Ontario, not only enriched his academic journey, but also resulted in a job offer right after graduation. However, this didn’t stop Joshua from continuing his studies towards a master’s degree, which eventually evolved into a Ph.D. He explains, “I wasn’t quite ready to settle down and stop that theoretical aspect of my learning, so I continued at UNB and pursued a master’s that transformed into a Ph.D. program. After completing my Ph.D. and gaining that theoretical understanding, there were certain things I felt I could contribute back to manufacturing. It was a great opportunity to apply the knowledge I had gained through my co-op experiences and my graduate studies.” 

Joshua’s academic pursuits took him across borders to France, where he worked alongside the Hephaistos research group at INRIA, the National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology in France. He dedicated his time to researching the “exploration of tools to understand uncertainty and invariability in mechanical systems, and how to apply some innovative techniques in order to synthesize mechanical designs that accommodate certain task requirements.” This international experience guided him towards a 16-month post-doctorate position with the Auctus group at INRIA in Bordeaux, which he pursued after joining Eigen Innovations Inc. as a Solutions Engineer.

Joshua firmly believes that one of the most important aspects of his development at UNB was the relationships he forged with fellow students, professors, and staff. He emphasizes, “It’s important that you know who you’re working with, who is teaching you outside of that lecture, otherwise, there’s only so much that you’re going to get out of the experience.” The connections Joshua built during his university years played a crucial role in shaping his future. “The reason I am at in Eigen Innovations today is because of academic relationships, many of which continue into your professional career.” These relationships provide unwavering support for his ongoing projects and aspirations.

Earning a place among the "Top 10 Under 40" in the Manufacturing Automation magazine marked a significant milestone in Joshua's career. This recognition not only acknowledged his tireless efforts but also highlighted the impact of small Canadian companies. Joshua was nominated by his colleagues who have witnessed his journey at Eigen Innovations Inc.

“Being nominated in the Manufacturing Automation magazine was quite an achievement for me, and it shows that all the hard work I put into my academic and now professional development is visible to others and is having an impact on the manufacturing industry. It’s very nice to see the impact that a small Canadian company can have on a global scale.” Joshua’s innovations have paved the way for foundational technologies and three distinct products that Eigen Innovations Inc. is currently developing.

Joshua's impressive journey, from a small-town upbringing to international recognition, stands as a testament to the power of quality education, determination, and meaningful connections. His story should inspire future engineers to seize opportunities, pursue their passions, and build connections that can share their future success. His innovative work in manufacturing automation is reshaping industries, and we can't wait to see what the future holds for this remarkable engineer.