What do the career path and day-in-the-life look like for a Sr. Engineer, Product Development at Owl Labs?
We connected with Andy Sweezey to find out!
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Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up in the town of Saugus, Massachusetts just nearby. My parents both worked in emergency services -- my dad as a police officer, and my mom as a Critical Care Nurse.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I proudly attended Northeastern University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. One of the major benefits of my time at NU was the ability to get work experience in my field before completing my degree through the co-op program.
I worked for two companies: a local division of a large connector company called Amphenol PCD and iRobot. After graduation, I returned to iRobot as a full-time engineer focused on floor care robots and continued to work there for five years. After leaving iRobot I joined Coravin, a company focused on changing the way consumers enjoy wine.
What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?
There are many factors that came together to get to where I am today, starting with the support of my parents. They showed me that life-long learning, hard work, and a good attitude are the keys to a satisfying career.
Professionally, I owe much of my success to mentorship from the many engineers I've had the privilege of working with. Every project has been an opportunity to learn a new skill or gain valuable feedback from folks with different backgrounds and levels of experience.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Sr. Engineer, Product Development at Owl Labs?
At Owl Labs, I'm focused on all phases of hardware development for our product, the Meeting Owl. It’s a 360° smart conferencing camera that goes in the center of the conference room table and automatically focuses on people when they talk. The result is a remote meeting experience that nearly feels like sitting in the room with the team.
In my role, I coordinate with electrical, software, and mechanical engineering to create a product architecture that meets customer needs. I also develop the detailed mechanical design and assembly through collaboration with manufacturing partners and assist operations with the meticulous documentation of the bill of materials. Finally, I also work with quality engineering to ensure the product exceeds the reliability requirements.
Any tips for someone considering a career in Engineering?
Get involved. As a young engineer, a “no job too small” attitude will allow you to contribute in small impactful ways, as well as complicated and interesting projects. Each project is an opportunity to work alongside people with more experience so you can ask questions and learn new things.
Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Focus on failing fast, documenting what happened, learning from the experience, and moving on.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
It used to be strictly tea, but lately, I've been getting on that coffee train. Fancy coffee and donuts near our office have definitely had an impact.
What time do you get into the office?
Something unique to the Owl Labs culture is that we live and breathe remote work and flexibility. When I choose to work from the office, I usually arrive between 9:30 and 10:30 AM. When my to-do list and schedule line up, I often choose to work from home (or anywhere) to maintain a good work-life balance for myself.
What are three things that motivate you in your role?
It’s easy to be motivated when working for an energetic, growing company. The satisfaction of delivering a robust product that delights the customer is top of mind. Another example is looking around at other departments and seeing how my contributions impact the team as a whole.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
The typical workday would start by checking for any messages from manufacturing partners that were sent overnight. From there, the day-to-day could vary from evaluating product or component samples, working in CAD to develop or iterate on a new design, building and testing prototype assemblies, reporting on design status and soliciting feedback. I wrap the day up by sending messages back to the manufacturing partner, keeping them up to date on progress made or changes in direction.
What time do you head out of the office?
I’ll typically head home between 6:00 and 7:00 PM. If I’m working from home, I simply wrap up when I’m done!
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
I'll log back in at home for a couple of different reasons, but not necessarily every night. Sometimes there’s a need to hop on a conference call with the manufacturing partner or support remote teammates by reviewing work or commenting on an ongoing discussion, especially if there’s a pending deadline.
Any productivity hacks?
The old fashioned to-do list is what keeps me organized and productive, but I’m open to suggestions!
What are the three apps that you can’t live without?
My favorites are Zoom, Slack, and Creo Parametric.
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
Product launches, quality improvements, and meeting schedules are all accomplishments to be proud of and celebrate, but nothing feels better than when a customer buys and likes the product you worked on.
We have thousands of successful customers who use the Meeting Owl every day, and I’m honored to be a part of that.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
It depends if the subject is professional development/culture or design, but in general, I lean on a network of former managers and colleagues when I get stuck.
Images courtesy of Owl Labs