KATERRA

July 2019 - June 2021


I joined Katerra, a Menlo Park/Seattle based construction startup, as part of a lean, independent R&D team. The vision of the company was to productize the construction industry and lower the global cost of housing.
 

My team was focused on creating targeted, time-saving manufactured assemblies and building materials. We initially concentrated on electrical but grew to include a variety of MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) products, as well as involvement in novel snap-in installation methods, and high LOC (Level of Completion) wall and floor panels. 

 

Together we looked for friction and pain points in the field, and came up with solutions targeting the lowest hanging fruit where there was the most opportunity to save time with the least amount of risk, cost, and work involved.

I was involved throughout the whole lifecycle, taking products from concepts and running them through initial vetting (cost assessments, FMEAs, product requirements). Then building prototypes, getting parts fabricated and creating step-by-step drawings to communicate with the factory and field with clarity and respect. And finally planning and executing factory prototype builds and pilot installations, working out line improvements, and capturing and implementing DfX (design for excellence) feedback.

After a restructure eliminated all of the MEP prefabrication initiatives except the ones I had been working on, I moved to the platform design team. As part of my new team, I took over all new and existing MEP prefab and made contributions, helping to simplify the overall building design.

With a careful, scrappy, cost-driven approach, I was able to convince a much more risk-averse Katerra to believe in and invest in some new ideas. And overtime was able to break down barriers and build a new trust between design, manufacturing, sourcing, and the field. 

Just prior to the company filing for Chapter 11, we ran a successful pilot in a mockup apartment unit in which my sourcing manager, Kasey, and PM Jeannette climbed ladders in pink PPE and, using our products, ran wiring in 1/5 of the time of experienced field electricians.

Clearwater Lights

August 2013 - June 2019

At Clearwater Lights, I joined a small team and worked to design and manufacture ferociously bright LED lights for motorcycles as well as off-road vehicles, race-tracks, and helicopters.

 

All of the lights are dimmable, either with a handlebar-mounted controller or in the case of some bikes (BMWs), controlled via the native factory instruments. This was made possible due to a module (CANopener) that interfaced with and passively listened to the bike's computer via CANbus signals. It allowed us to dim the lights up and down with the bike's GPS control wheel, flash or strobe with the high beam or horn, and even use data from a variety of systems on the bike to determine how fast the bike was decelerating and pulse the brake light correspondingly, preventing rear ends.

I worked on the design and introduction of all new products. I employed various rapid-prototyping tools (3D scanners, laser cutters, SLA 3D printers) for early-stage concept design. I designed and improved PCBs, harnesses, injection molds, cast and machined metal enclosures, and laser cut/water jetted sheet metal parts.

I was hands-on in the assembly and manufacturing process and would often build the first several dozen of any new product while we worked out any issues or friction in the assembly of our products.

 

Many of the biggest technical challenges revolved around ruggedizing the product to stand up to the relatively harsh environment of a motorcycle. Our products would regularly be exposed to harsh vibrations, UV, high-pressure water, salt, impact, and electrical spikes. 

To better stand up to anything that might be tossed at them, I helped devise and execute tests (notably UV and IP67 water testing) and performed failure analyses on any defective and returned items. The results from these allowed me to help push material and design improvements that reduced failures from moisture and vibration by ~95%.

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Sample showing granularity of step-by-step assembly drawing (without sharing any IP)