Senior Design Engineer
After changing her career trajectory from optician to engineer, Melanie joined Brainlab as a Junior Design Engineer in 2011. Seven years and two promotions later, Melanie discusses her career and what she loves about engineering.
When did you start working at Brainlab?I started working at Brainlab in 2011 as a Junior Design Engineer. In August 2017, I was promoted to Senior Design Engineer.
What did you study?
Before starting at Brainlab, I studied precision engineering and mechatronics at Georg-Simon-Ohm Hochschule in Nuremberg, Germany.
Can you describe your position?
I am the responsible Design Engineer for our Joint Recon Instruments. The Joint Recon team creates software and hardware for orthopedic surgery like hip and knee replacements. My work begins with ideation and conceptualization of new instruments or improvements for existing instruments. These first design concepts quickly become the first prototypes, produced either in our own small workshop or with the help of the usual methods like 3D printing or milling processes. In addition to rigorous testing of new instruments for stability, user-friendliness and above all safety, I am also responsible for choosing materials, manufacturing processes and delivery methods and determining test criteria for the finished serial parts. With the preparation of relevant documents for the release of these medical products, I accompany the instruments from their conception to market-readiness.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
I like the independent and creative work and the possibility to realize my ideas. Since my work incorporates so many various areas, I am always familiarizing myself with new and different fields. I also find the regular visits to tradeshows and our suppliers and customers very engaging.
What motivates you to come to work every day?
The new ideas and interesting challenges that each day brings. And my colleagues, of course.
What drew you to a career in the sciences?
Before my engineering studies, I actually completed an apprenticeship to become an optician. After finishing, it become clearer to me what I do and don’t like to do. The manual work that one does as an optician was always my favorite part. Above all, the creativity and self-sufficiency really appealed to me. Sales and customer consultation, however, is a large part of being an optician, so I knew then that it was not something I could do forever. It was then that I realized I wanted to become an inventor. I completed my university-entrance diploma and began my studies in Engineering.
As a woman in Engineering, did you encounter any problems during your studies?
Thankfully, not that much. At the beginning of my studies, there were a few guys who made stupid comments when I got better grades than them. Strangely, I didn’t see those guys at the end of my studies. So I guess that was more their problem than mine.
Do you have any advice for girls considering a career in engineering?
I think a career in engineering is a great job, as it is very creative, exciting and eclectic. It’s all about realizing ideas to improve what is already state-of-the-art. It is very fortunate that so many women and girls in our generation here can choose their own careers. I find the areas of research and development to be great because they are never boring and new technologies and possibilities are constantly being created. Along with the fundamentals of science, creativity, imagination and fantasy are always required!