Our “Meet the Team” series profiles the creative and curious people of First Mode. We are driven to find purposeful technology solutions to the world’s most important challenges. We take our work seriously but ourselves not too seriously. Want to work with us? View our open positions.
What do you do at First Mode?
I’m a systems engineer working on the hydrogen haul truck project. Recently, this has meant teaming up with the battery hardware lead and a software engineer to get the battery packs up and running and safely interacting with each other.
Why is this important?
When something goes wrong with a battery, it can go wrong in a big way. Having batteries allows the hydrogen truck to store energy from braking and output more power for driving uphill, so having a system around the use of the batteries is crucial to having them onboard.
What drew you to First Mode originally?
The opportunity to work on interesting projects with great people. I came to know and respect several of the First Mode team through various avenues in graduate school, and the breadth of work appealed to my interest in continued learning.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Breakfast time. I set aside an hour every morning to make and eat breakfast with my partner (including the all-important coffee).
How did your passion for engineering and tech begin?
My interests have always fallen near the intersection of science and engineering, but I had a bit of an epiphany the summer after I started college. Before then, I hadn’t fully grasped how little humans actually know, how much there is to discover, and how fluid fields like physics, mathematics, and engineering are. Then I was all in.
Did you have a hero or heroine figure growing up?
One person who had a major influence on my early life was my Tae Kwon Do instructor, whom I trained with between ages 6 and 18. In addition to training camps and tournaments, I went on my first backpacking and climbing trips with the team, and learned a lot about how to treat all people with respect.
Do you have a mantra, a motto, or a mission statement?
Not as such, but I think it is rewarding to approach any situation or interaction by first considering both what you can bring to it and what you can learn from it.
What is great about systems engineering?
I love how it emphasizes thinking about the larger picture, timeline, and goals, then allows for deeper dives into specific systems and the interactions between them. There is always an opportunity for learning.
Could you point to a project that you are most proud of?
In graduate school, I wrote a proposal for a small satellite and was able to see it through to commissioning in space. Working with a truly amazing team of undergraduate and graduate students was the most rewarding part, but torquing down the final screw was definitely a highlight.
What is one discovery or human endeavor of the last few years that you consider exciting?
I am really excited about the James Webb Space Telescope finally launching this year and the new science it will enable. I’ve been to many talks where the methods discussed require more than currently operating telescopes can deliver, but JWST could supply the needed data. In a world where thousands of small, almost disposable satellites are being sent to space, it is nice to see a major effort finally come to fruition.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Skiing is where my PTO goes, most recently on a three-day trip up Glacier Peak. I like hiking, climbing, biking, and drinking tasty beers with friends after any of the above. I’ve also recently discovered farmers market flowers and have been hooked on getting $10 weekly bouquets ever since.
Have you learned anything great in the last year?
Among other things: I have learned so much about connectors! Having come from working on a small satellite, connectors and harnesses for haul trucks are a whole new world.