Mechanical Engineer – A day in the life

My name is Alicia Evans and I work as a product
development engineer at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. The coolest project I’ve worked on would
be the opti-flow junior cannula, so that is a set of nasal prongs that is applied to,
often a premature infant, or a kid that can’t breathe properly. Maybe their lungs aren’t
fully developed, maybe they have asthma or pneumonia. We helped to develop a cannula
that is pretty revolutionary in the field in terms of its design and how it helped to
treat those infants and babies. We put the patient and our caregiver at the heart of
how we design and that’s why we do well at it. A typical day’s work at Fisher & Paykel totally depends on what stage you are at in
the project and that’s really cool in itself. So there is a huge variety of work. As an
engineer, you do everything from the customer research right at the start of a project − going
into hospitals, visiting clinicians, asking how our devices work, how we can make them
better − right through to prototyping, design and manufacturing. We do most of our manufacturing
on-site here in New Zealand. So yeah, it totally depends on the phase. I originally studied mechatronics at Canterbury University. I really liked the variety of
work that engineering could offer, particularly mechatronics. So you’re doing part-mechanical,
part-electrical and a little bit of software. I really enjoyed making things, I was reasonably
creative as a kid and I really enjoyed problem solving.
And so when I applied for the job here, I got a role as a mechanical product development
engineer and that was really great. There is two things I really love about working
here. One is the practical side of it, trying to get into the workshop more, trying to learn
how to make things like mould tools for injection moulding. And the second thing I really love
is making a meaningful difference, seeing how our products can impact the lives of a
patient or a caregiver.