Emily Parrish is an experienced industrial, automation, and robotics engineer and a 2016 graduate from the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial Systems and Engineering (ISyE). Always eager to learn, she has a diverse range of interests and did not originally know what career path she would end up pursuing. So what led her to engineering, and how did she achieve recognition from Forbes so early in her career?
Originally born in Germany, Parrish moved with her family to Boston and then to Baltimore before finally settling down in Georgia at seven years old. Passionate about music, she played instruments her whole life, including drums, flute, piano, and now guitar. She was also very competitive in sports, playing soccer since an early age. And, as it turns out, engineering ran in her family — her father was working in operations engineering with a background in mechanical engineering.
Because of the Zell Miller Scholarship and the opportunity to stay close to home, Georgia Tech was a natural choice for Parrish. She applied as a business major and dabbled in aerospace engineering before settling on industrial engineering, which drew her interest because of the mixture of process improvement and business elements. She was also accepted into the Denning Technology & Management (T&M) program, a two-year course of study that allows engineering students to receive a minor in engineering and business.
After her first year at Georgia Tech, Parrish landed a co-op at UPS Supply Chain Solutions. Her experience at UPS solidified her excitement for process efficiency and continuous improvement, and she had the opportunity to attend Modex, an Atlanta-based tradeshow that is the largest manufacturing and supply chain expo in North America. Modex features equipment and solutions for assembly logistics, fulfillment and delivery, IT, and other emerging technology solutions.
At the expo, Parrish saw Amazon’s fulfillment center robots for the first time and immediately fell in love with them. Inspired to work for Amazon, she later landed her first role as an innovation and design engineer, working on automating warehouse systems.
“I wanted to be at a company that was fast paced and really changing the way that warehousing and automation were working,” said Parrish.
Immediately after graduating, she moved to Seattle and eventually worked her way up to senior hardware development engineer. Throughout Parrish’s career at Amazon, the systematic approach of industrial engineering allowed her to apply her skillset to any role. One project she worked on with her team was automating the sortation process for multiple item orders, and the new item sortation machine she developed is pending patent, along with several other customer experience inventions.
This year, Parrish’s accomplishments are being recognized on a larger scale, as she was selected for the 2021 cohort of Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Manufacturing and Industry section.
“I never thought it would happen,” said Parrish about her achievement. “I'm so humbled. The people in Forbes are amazing and so talented — a lot of them are startup CEOs who have created so many different products. I'm honored to be among them.” She described the surreal moment of waking up to find out she made the list and was already receiving congratulatory messages from friends.
Being part of Forbes 30 Under 30 has enabled her to connect with other accomplished people and learn about different industries. “It’s been really great to meet genuinely brilliant people across the nation who are curious to learn, too,” said Parrish.
Now, she has a new role as a principal design engineer working on designing fulfillment centers at a prominent, multi-billion-dollar valuated startup. She still enjoys being in Seattle and seeing the beautiful view while living near the water.
Looking back on her college experience, Parrish credits her Georgia Tech education as instrumental in building a foundation of skills that has enabled her to reach the place she is in today. In particular, the Denning T&M program was an enriching experience with a curriculum that exposed her to a wide range of topics, including innovative technologies, biogenetics, cryptocurrencies, sustainability, and more. She especially valued interacting in a small, multidisciplinary class setting, and the program also offered numerous networking opportunities and helped her refine her interview and presentation skills.
Some of Parrish’s favorite memories from Georgia Tech are from joining the crew team and the barbell club, where she was able to spend time with other students who also liked sports and staying fit. Overall, she recalls the incredible experiences of getting to meet other intelligent people with the same ideas and drive, many of whom she is still friends with today.
When asked about her future plans, Parrish said, “My goal is just to keep learning and exposing new technologies to people. I try to make sure that I'm happy every day and doing something that I'm passionate about and that is really helping change the world.”
For More Information Contact
Communications Assistant H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering