Innovation is sexy, even if it’s not all ball pits and sleep pods

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Throughout my career, I have noticed that junior development engineers always seem to be asking for opportunities to design a new circuit board or a new mechanical widget, and can get disheartened if they are spending lots of time testing or problem-solving.

It seems that when typical engineering graduates think of sexy, words like “design” and “cutting-edge technology” come to mind. Silicon Valley project super cool environments filled with sleeping pods, pits of brightly coloured balls and slides. But what is the actual reality of developing a ground-breaking technology?

The reality is that developing innovative products that address a market need, are technologically feasible and commercially viable is really, really hard. It takes grit, determination, and resilience week in week out. Because just as you clear one hurdle the next one presents itself.

 

Designing the circuit boards, mechanical parts, cables and software is only a small part of what is required to take an idea all the way through to a commercially successful product. As an engineer developing a new product, a large majority of your week will be filled with problem solving and testing, testing and some more testing.

  • Testing to diagnose issues, determine root cause and trial solutions.
  • Testing to ensure the product meets the customer needs.
  • Testing to ensure the performance and features work as intended.
  • Testing to ensure the product integrates with other elements of the ecosystem that it is part of.
  • Testing to ensure that the product is reliable and robust when subjected to different environments and stressors.
  • Testing to ensure product updates and software releases integrate with the existing configuration.
  • Testing to ensure each product coming off the manufacturing line is safe and functioning as intended.

The list goes on…

 

Testing, testing, testing! Left: Peter Toogood preparing the SolShare for IP testing. Right: Kristy with PI’s Rajeev Gupte testing at our manufacturing facility.

To some, this may not seem very exciting, but to me, there is a beauty in seeing all of the pieces of the puzzle come together. Because what I find sexy as hell is seeing a product I have had a part in developing out in the real world being used by happy customers, and solving problems that matter. Therein lies the thrill!

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