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Meet Anette: From Marketing leader to Hardware expert

March 21st 2023

Recently, a rumor about us started going around the NTNU campus. Some people believe that Ascend NTNU is now a bunch of nerdy men wearing programming socks. While there is some truth to the fact that we have more men than women, those rumors really undersell the contributions made by the amazing women in Ascend. From technical contributions like our Mo-Cap test system to incredible organizational work on the board, there’s no way Ascend would be what it is today without the wonderful women who have worked tirelessly to make us go further! What we would like now, is to introduce you to one of these amazing women who is pushing the envelope of aerial robotics.

A Dream Come True

Meet Anette Hatlen, our first female Hardware engineer at Ascend NTNU. Already in her 2nd-year study for a master’s program in product development and production, Anette is well-equipped with knowledge in mechanical engineering to help build our new drone.

Anette grew up in the capital city of Oslo, Norway. Like many young girls, her teenage years were surrounded by music venues, festivals, and friends who accompanied her to parties and girls’ nights out. Nevertheless, she dreamed of becoming an engineer in a workplace filled with exciting opportunities. The competitive and puzzling nature of the role might seem a little distant and overwhelming. But for Anette, nothing overweighs the excitement of using complex machinery and technology to build a better world.

After graduating high school, she began her life as a university biology student. But, not feeling the joy from her expectation, Anette kept thinking biology wasn’t for her. Besides, she was somewhat put off by a lack of practical work in the classroom. Then everything changed in the blink of an eye when she stumbled upon Ascend NTNU like Romeo meets Juliet. Longing for new excitement, Anette quit her Biology study and set a new adventure into the realm of mechanical engineering without a second thought. Meanwhile, she managed to join Ascend NTNU as the Head of Marketing in 2021. 

Despite her success in Marketing, Anette had always been fascinated by the practical work done by the Hardware team. Back then, she was thoroughly convinced to join the Hardware team since they were the only group doing production work related to her studies. From 2021 to 2022, she kept up with the latest development in Hardware while learning the basics of material engineering in her study. So when an opportunity arose to join the Hardware team, she jumped at it.

When they asked if I wanted to stick around at Ascend, I said yes and chose the Hardware team without hesitation. It is a spontaneous decision, and I’m cool with it

She submitted her application to the Hardware team, and 3 months later, her dream became a reality. A year of experience as the Marketing leader turned into the membership into Ascend NTNU’s Hardware team as the first female engineer. 

Working as an Engineer

As a production mechanical engineer, she mainly works on component assembly and material manufacture, such as CNC milling. Even though she finally found her calling, there are plenty of opportunities for her marketing creativity to shine in the new role. Recently, she brought a unique perspective outside the box in refining and optimizing our new drone model for the SUAS competition. 

Thanks to our sponsor's assistance with CNC milling, the start of the semester was a wild ride for Anette as she encountered a challenge while making the drone frame. The mainframe must undergo weight reduction, which has proved to be a daunting task. Despite outlining various designs, Anette continually ran into problems adhering to the strict 25 kg weight limit of the SUAS competition.

An early illustration of the design:

However, after conducting a CAD plate simulation and focusing on stress areas, Anette finally found a breakthrough. Her dedication to the project kept her working tirelessly from dusk until dawn. Through many iterations in just a few days, Anette reduced weight through countless simulations without compromising structural integrity. She finally overcame the challenge by assembling the mainframe plate in a balanced way without having to remove any necessary components. This involved piercing through the mainframe evenly, including the designated spot for the PDB and battery, and strategically trimming its stressed areas.

Although much of her tasks in Hardware have involved a lot of complexity, Anette was not intimidated and took the steps one at a time. She continued making progress on drone legs and threw herself into the work with gusto.

As the first and only female engineer in the Hardware team, Anette says she always feels at home whenever she’s in the workshop. She never dwelled on how her gender made her stand out and was more interested in seeing her hard work pay off. She enjoyed chatting with everybody during lunchtime in the workshop and often brought her own lunch.

“At the end of the day, motivation and social bond keep us together. That’s really all that matters.”

Over time, Anette proved herself an invaluable member of the hardware team. Her story is a testament to the power of determination and hard work.

Looking back on her transition from the Head of Marketing to the Hardware team, Anette felt proud of what she had accomplished. She proved that women could also excel in the traditionally male-dominated engineering field. As the former Marketing leader, she hopes her experience will open the door for other like-minded women to follow in her footsteps.