#EngineeringAtNUVA: Finding Purpose in Medical Device Engineering

#EngineeringAtNUVA is a series that highlights talented engineers who make up NuVasive Engineering. Every feature will have a unique set of questions to give you the most diverse knowledge into Engineering at NUVA including roles within Manufacturing, Development, Software, and Electrical Engineering. The series is for students interested in the field, for prospective engineers who want to understand our culture, and for those intrigued to meet some of our incredibly intelligent Shareowners!

Our next feature for #EngineeringAtNUVA is Pako, Sr. Development Engineer for Interbody Development at our San Diego Headquarters!

Pako, why did you choose to work as an Engineer in the Medical Device industry versus other industries?

I have always been particularly interested in designing a product and bringing something tangible to market. My mechanical engineering senior design project in 2014 involved a medical device, and it sparked my interest in helping patients. At NuVasive, I have the opportunity to design and develop implants and instruments that directly impact patient lives. I can’t think of a more rewarding industry!

How long have you been at NUVA?

I joined NuVasive in September 2014 as a short-term intern, then transitioned to full-time as a Development Engineer in October. I became a Senior Development Engineer in September 2016, and have been here for more than four years now! I’ve had the privilege to work on and lead a variety of development projects.

For the last year, I have been focusing on 3D-printed implants and have supplemented my technical work with taking on the lead role of a culture committee we formed in the development department.


Is there a specific class or skill that you wish you took or learned prior to graduating college that would positively impact your work today?

Most of the university training is theoretical, so I came into NuVasive with very few practical skills that I could immediately apply to design. I wish I developed more practical tinkering, design, and drafting skills through more internship experiences and possible involvement in university clubs.

However, the theoretical base helped me catch on quickly, and my involvement in leadership positions within extra-curricular organizations gave me confidence to effectively interact with my peers, seek mentorship, and grow professionally.


What was your path from realizing you wanted to be an Engineer to working at NuVasive today?

In high school, I wanted to either be an industrial designer working on designing cars or start an apparel brand. Those were my hobbies, but my favorite subject was physics. When exploring career options, I figured I could leverage my love for physics, and combine it with my affinity for design through engineering. Learning the bases of engineering was tough, but I now get to apply them in a company and career that seems perfectly tailored to my personality.

Can you share what inspired you to pursue Engineering?

I have always had a very high level of respect for those that create. Whether it be architecture, fashion, food, etc. I find the act of design and creation to be particularly noble. Engineering happens to be a field that significantly influences and directly causes a lot of the creations around us. Although it can be mistakenly perceived as less artistic due to the focus on science and reason, I find the act of transforming the theoretical to the practical for the betterment of all to be incredibly powerful.

Finally, the demand for well-informed and well-intentioned engineering and engineering thinking will only continue to increase across all sectors, and I am happy to contribute in any small way I can.


For those deciding on which type of engineering path to pursue, what would be your advice?

The answer should rest with the individual, heavily influenced by their passions. One recommendation I have is to make a focused effort to fully understand what the field of interest does. Often times, engineering hopefuls I meet don’t fully understand the career they’re considering or have embarked on and are at risk of having chosen the “wrong” one or having incorrectly-prepared for what they really want. A few ways to mitigate this risk is to research the different disciplines and their applications, as well as interview individuals directly involved in those roles.

Finally, what makes Engineering at NuVasive unique in your opinion?

There are many different types of engineers with several roles and passions suited for those roles. For me in particular, I get to pursue my passion of design and further develop my interpersonal skills due to the multi-faceted nature of my role. I interact with surgeons and sometimes even patients, help manage supplier relationships, lead projects with supportive teammates, and other incredibly fulfilling opportunities. The common thread amongst all engineers I see is a blanket sense of eagerness to help each other, learn, improve, and affect clinical outcomes.

I’ve never encountered such a positive culture that is supported and fostered by engineering leadership and embraced by both new and tenured engineers. This culture is the distinguishing factor.


Interested in the engineering field at NuVasive? Learn about open roles and what it takes to be an engineer with NUVA by clicking here.


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