URI Graduate Earns SME ’30 Under 30′ Honor

Pheland adjusting tool settings on a large vertical CNC machine.
Tim Pheland adjusting tool settings on a large vertical CNC machine.

By Neil Nachbar

Tim Pheland, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in 2012 and a master’s degree in 2016 in Industrial and Systems Engineering, was recently named to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ (SME) “30 Under 30” list.

The list celebrates 30 young men and women for their demonstrated achievements, leadership, and high-tech work in manufacturing.

Pheland is a manufacturing engineer at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, located at Quonset Point (North Kingstown, R.I.). His company nominated him for the award.

“I was very surprised and honored at the same time,” said Pheland.  “I never heard of the award until my company nominated me for it, but once I looked into it, I was very humbled by the nomination.”

Three years ago, Pheland joined Hexagon’s parts manufacturing department. He is responsible for optimizing the company’s CNC systems in the areas of programming and tooling. According to the award announcement in Quality Magazine, Pheland’s “efforts resulted in a significant reduction in cycle time, as well as doubling throughput, enabling the department to improve quality and cut their cost per part in half.”

Pheland, who lives in Scituate, R.I., credits his experience at URI for putting him on a path to success.

“URI is a large school with a small school feel. I benefitted from the personal attention that students receive from the staff,” stated Pheland. “I’d like to especially thank Professor Valerie Maier Speredelozzi, who was there for me throughout my time at URI.  From the day I transferred home to URI from WVU, she made sure I was taking the correct courses and she urged me to go for my master’s. She was always there whenever I had any questions.”

Maier Speredelozzi expressed the pride she felt when she learned that Pheland was recognized by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

“I was thrilled to have one of our young alumni from the Industrial and Systems Engineering program honored at the national level,” said Maier Speredelozzi.

As an accomplished young engineer, Pheland has been more than willing to share his knowledge and experience with the next generation of URI engineering students.

“Tim has always maintained a connection with the ISE program at URI,” stated Maier Speredelozzi. “Through his internships with Toray and Pilgrim Screw, continuing into full-time positions, and now working at Hexagon, he was always tried to bridge the gap between industry and academia.”

Pheland currently works closely with a mechanical engineering intern from URI named Ben Lee.

“Ben is learning a lot about standardized work instructions and he is understanding the hands-on skills that are required in the profession,” said Pheland. “I’m confident that he’ll be a more well-rounded engineer because of this experience.”

Lee will graduate in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a bachelor’s degree in German.

Photos courtesy of Hexagon.

“My experience at Hexagon has taught me the importance of understanding and involving yourself in every aspect of a company’s day-to-day operations,” said Lee. “Whether you are involved in design, machining, assembly, or calibration, it is always beneficial to learn about other departments.”

Lee is responsible for developing work instructions for the assembly of Coordinate Measuring Machines, but is also involved in other areas, such as the machining of parts and the calibration of assembled machines.

Maier Speredelozzi hopes that students such as Lee are inspired by Pheland’s success and ambition.

“I hope our current students will see Tim as a role model of how they can embrace lifelong learning and become problem solvers throughout their years at URI and beyond, as young alumni,” said the professor.