Excellent Product Design & Development – Stacie Depner – Director of Engineering at Nectar

As Director of Engineering at Nectar, what teams do you manage and does it vary from project to project?

I’m the Director of Mechanical Engineers and Electrical Engineers and I also have a dual role as Program Director. I will often be leading engineering as well as design. At Nectar, we integrate our product development, so engineering and design work side by side.

How do you define Mechanical and Electronics Engineering?

Engineers take user, business and technical requirements and create solutions that bring products to realization. They do this through research, analysis, prototyping and testing. This is an iterative process.  They go through this over and over throughout the product development process until the product becomes ready to be manufactured. Mechanical Engineers do this in areas such as mechanism design, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and system integration. Electrical Engineers do this in the areas if circuit design, board design, sensor and chip developments. At Nectar, we get involved in each other’s projects; our EE’s get involved with embedded firmware as well.

How do the two types of engineering interact with each other?

During a project, Mechanical Engineers and Electrical Engineers interact throughout the entire design.  They’re constantly iterating back and forth between each other, especially if a product needs to be very tightly sized and costed. An Electrical Engineer will start looking at the components needed for a board and the Mechanical Engineers will look at the mechanisms and the housing size and the space constraints. Together they will pass their information, wants, and needs back and forth between each other until they come up with an achievement that meets all goals.

As a Program Director, how do you work with Project Managers and the team?

On a larger scale for multidisciplinary projects, it’s important to have a Program Director overseeing functional Project Managers who are then overseeing their teams.  When we have four or five distinct functions working together, it’s important to have somebody overseeing the whole program.  So that way Project Managers can manage within their function and keep all their information together. They then report to the Program Director their progress and how they’re achieving their goals throughout the project.

Can you work with companies who have an in-house engineering team?

We can absolutely work with companies that have in-house engineering teams and we do frequently. Often a bigger company that does have engineering just needs support, because they don’t have the bandwidth to take on a project. We will sometimes take a project that’s already partially designed and take it into manufacturing.  Other times we will take a project from early conception and work with a company’s engineering team to make sure that we’re meeting the requirements that are needed from a user’s standpoint.

Can you take on engineering projects where the Industrial Design came from another firm?

Absolutely, we take on projects from other design groups and we’re able to take that design, do the surface modeling, part breakup, structuring and any mechanism that may need to be designed and do the analysis and bring that into commercialization with no problem whatsoever.  However, if you separate design from engineering, there are times when you come up with constraints and things that were considered by the design team without having the engineering support. This causes re-designs and can be costly.

How does your work at a multi-disciplinary firm like Nectar differ from a traditional engineering company?

Nectar differentiates itself by having an integrated team. This is where teams from different disciplines work together to understand values and goals. It creates a collaborative workflow and results in more intuitive products.

Inefficiencies can occur when design is separated from engineering. You need an integrated group passing information back and forth and reviewing each other’s work, so that you’re not creating mistakes and having to rework things down the road as you get closer to commercialization. Nectar will go as far as having our engineers help with user research.  They’re also partnered and doing mechanism component design, part design and helping with the human factor studies. The industrial designers are looking at the same things. Together they’re understanding the configuration and the layout of the product, how it will be interacted with and how it can be manufactured all while we’re designing the concept of the product.

What is your ideal project for your team?

An ideal and exciting project for us is one we can help develop the use cases and functions. We excel when all functions get involved and are working together to understand the market, users and deliver a concept. Nectar provides a product concept that we all believe in and can get behind. We’re all passionate about user- centered product development and our unique design process.

2017-08-11T16:53:59+00:00