International Day of Women and Girls in Science with Claudia Campanella

Last Sunday might have seemed like an ordinary day to most, but for women and girls in science, it is a very important one. On February 11, we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The initiative comes from the United Nations, in an effort to call attention to a persistent issue in terms of gender equality: the still significant gender gap in STEM all over the world. Two women who unintentionally show the way to young women in agriculture by being great at their technical jobs are Claudia Campanella and Angela Falagario. This week, we celebrate them and all the women in agtech who show the younger generations of women that it is possible. Because, as we know, representation matters.

Even though women have made a lot of progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM, a UN press release states. In an industry that is still very male-oriented as a whole, the gap is arguably even bigger in scientific and technical fields. The best way to motivate young girls to pursue a scientific or technical career in agriculture is by doing it, and that is where women like Claudia and Angela make a significant difference. Let’s meet Claudia.

From FIAT Auto to CNH

Claudia Campanella is Sensing AI, Ergonomics and Human Machine Interface, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality, Manager at CNH. After obtaining a degree in Industrial Design at the Politecnico in Turin, Italy and working at FIAT Auto, where she developed and improved the ergonomics of car interiors and participating to the launch of several iconic FIAT models, she found her way to CNH in 2005. During her time at the Modena plant, she immediately saw the need for important improvements in tractors and the ergonomics in the brand’s Ag segment. Working alone, she built the first Ergonomics and Human Factors department in the company, applying to Ag machines the expertise she acquired in the automotive sector, starting with small and medium tractors.

In 2008, Claudia developed the first GPS Cab for New Holland’s T4 and T5 models, particularly appreciated for the improved visibility of the fully openable transparent roof hatch. She worked on several machines’ cabs – from small tractors to telehandlers and wheel loaders – and her innovations are now applied to high horsepower tractors: the latest example being the T7.300 LWB, for which she also patented the SideWinder™ armrest, that places all the tractor’s key controls ergonomically and logically in a single location.

Today, Claudia leads a team of twenty two people located all around the world, working together to improve Human Factors in the whole New Holland range. The team is also involved in the use of Sensing, AI, Virtual and Augmented Reality, that helps simplifying and speeding up the development process of new projects.

A fresh perspective

“With a comprehensive and modern approach, Claudia Campanella is the person who completely changed New Holland’s tractors operators’ environment”, New Holland states. “Her contribution to the brand is undeniable and evident, being the person who created a whole new department completely dedicated to ergonomics, shining a light on aspects that are gaining more and more attention in today’s Ag sector.”

Claudia’s focus on ergonomics provides a new approach in our industry. The use of tractors is often a more stressful and prolonged one compared to cars. Operators have a different posture, and therefore different needs. The layout of the command platform in small tractors and the high visibility transparent roof hatch are just two of the innovations she introduced during her career. Her patented SideWinder™ II armrest, designed to place all the tractor’s key controls ergonomically and logically in a single location, is another one of those innovations. “Groupings include engine and transmission, three-point- hitch limits, media and climate control. A comprehensive number of functions are located on the force-based multifunction handle for precise control of the tractor’s speed and end-of-row operations. This is a fully customizable operator interface, with controls easily configured by the driver by choosing functions from a pick list on a touch monitor. Hardware customization includes choosing between an advanced joystick or remote levers and the positioning of the elbow pad”, the brand states. Claudia is often told she brings a human side to a company made of engineers. Her vision, combining practical aspects of the machine with the human component and an eye for aesthetics, made a mark on a sector that is focused on technological and engineer-driven innovations. Often referred to as the interior designer of New Holland tractors and working in a close relationship with CNH’s design team, she revolutionized the brand’s look and feel.

Claudia attributes her ability to create high quality, impactful ergonomics to the long observation of operators in the fields. The first base of work for her is always an attentive study of the farmers’ real use of tractors, their habits, their posture, their specific needs in terms of accessibility to commands. For example, she noticed that operators on tractors are often turned around to look at the attachments in actions and check the results of their work – and this completely changes the approach when conceiving the ergonomics for the seat and for the commands. This approach has allowed the brand to tailor their machines to their customers’ comfort.

We often jokingly refer to “a woman’s touch”: let’s take Claudia’s vision and what it achieved for the brand as an example of how that woman’s touch can improve our industry, making it more accessible for everyone. Because let’s face it: in these challenging times for agriculture, we need everyone. Thank you, Claudia, for being an inspiration.

 

 

 

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