When Sophie Morneau was in college, she had a habit where she would take an interesting class, then decide to learn more. She's still doing that at Branson Ultrasonics Corp., the plastics welding equipment specialist.
“It's one thing leading to another,” she said. “For me, it was always adding on, building on.”
Morneau, 47, is director of global application engineering at the Danbury, Conn., company.
When Morneau, a French Canadian, graduated from high school, she wanted to pursue electronics because of the job opportunities in that field. So she earned an associate's degree in electronics from Montmorency College in Quebec. But classes in materials piqued her interested.
She began earning a bachelor's degree in material engineering at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal. But the big moment was a summer internship at the Industrial Material Institute at the National Research Council Canada. There, she was introduced to finite element simulation of mold filling during injection molding.
“Although my course path was filled with twists and turns, my career in the plastics industry was sealed,” Morneau said.
She then also earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the university in Montreal.
Her first job was at Quebec custom injection molder Plastilec Inc. She had stops at power company Hydro-Quebec and a nanotechnology startup before coming to Branson.
At Branson, she leads a group of 20 male engineers.
“I feel I have achieved success and acceptance as a woman in a predominantly male environment,” she said. “But you still have to make your mark. So maybe it was a little bit unusual, but over time, you work hard and you get accepted.”
Branson is a broad-line maker of welding equipment, including ultrasonic, vibration, laser, hot plate and spin.
Now, she said, the company is working on cutting-edge challenges such as joining technology for bioplastics and parts made by 3-D printing.
Branson is part of Emerson Electric Co., the multinational industrial company. Morneau serves on the Emerson Women in Engineering Council, where she meets colleagues from around the world.
“For me to hear these stories, is pretty inspiring,” she said. “It's knowing, hey somebody else did it. They had some hurdles, but they overcame the hurdles.”