We love talking to and getting to know our Neato Robotics family. This time, we’re spending some time with mechanical engineer, Shane Tan. Through the conversation, he shares what it’s like to be on the team here at Neato Robotics and talks through the mechanics of a few of our products’ features. Now let’s get to know Shane!
Q: What do you do as a mechanical engineer?
A: As an engineer in the mechanical design team, I have ownership over the mechanical features and components of our robotic vacuum cleaners and their accessories through the product development process. This includes the design, prototyping, analysis and testing of mechanical parts and assemblies from the product concept design stage to mass production. Through this development process, we ensure that the final design meets the functionality, quality, and safety requirements to launch an industry leading product.
Q: What’s your favorite part about mechanical engineering?
A: One of my favorite parts of mechanical engineering is the flexibility and adaptability of the profession. With a mechanical engineering background, one can venture into most industries ranging from construction to consumer electronics. However, the coolest perk of being a mechanical engineer at Neato Robotics is being able to work on complex challenges, and see your finished designs on the shelves of some of the biggest retailers in the U.S.
Q: What’s the most challenging part about your job?
A: The most challenging part of being a mechanical engineer is anticipating, analyzing, and solving any mechanical issues that may arise during any stage of the product cycle. During the conceptualization and design stages, it is important to perform the necessary engineering calculations and analysis to ensure that the designs can meet its specifications. With more experience, a mechanical engineer will be able to design more complex functionalities and understand its different failure modes.
Q: Did you always want to go into this field?
A: Growing up in Malaysia, I never really thought about what I wanted to be. I felt like the career options available back home did not really interest me. However, having an affinity for physics and math, I decided to enroll in the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a major in mechanical engineering.
Before I knew it, I found myself struggling to cope with the difficult coursework in the engineering program. But through the guidance of my peers and mentors, I started improving, and gained more experience through different projects and internships. Furthermore, studying abroad exposed me to many career possibilities that one can have with a mechanical engineering background that were not possible back home. With this, I started to find my passion for it, and I love what I am doing now.
Q: What led you to your career at Neato Robotics?
A: After graduation, I wanted to become a mechanical product design engineer in the consumer electronics industry. Since many of these companies were in Silicon Valley, I made it my goal to move to the Bay Area.
During my job search, I had the opportunity to interview at Neato Robotics. Through research of the company, I found their products very challenging as they were built with complex mechanical assemblies. Furthermore, I also saw a huge opportunity to learn and grow in the position after speaking to the team during the interview process. As a result, I decided to take on a mechanical engineering role at Neato Robotics.
Q: Can you talk through the mechanics of one of our Neato Robotics products? What’s unique about it?
A: I think the airflow system of the is one of the most interesting aspects of our robot vacuums.
Our Neato D10 has one of the largest dustbins in the market at 0.7L, so it was important to design the airflow in a way that allows debris to fill the entire volume and prevent any wasted space. Through airflow analysis, we were able to optimize the filling of the dustbin to ensure that the accumulation of debris starts on either side of the dustbin, subsequently filling its way into the center to utilize the maximum volume.
Meanwhile, the system also must account for the cleaning of both large and small particles. The brush on the Neato D10 is designed for the pick-up of larger debris and the cleaning channel is optimized for the removal of dust. Finally, the filter is made of a true HEPA material, which traps any fine particulate and allergens to ensure that the air leaving the system is as clean as possible.
Although it may seem simple from the outside, the optimization of each component is critical to maximizing the performance and efficiency of the system.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career thus far?
A: I think the best advice I have been given is to take more risks, and to not be afraid of making mistakes, especially early on in your career. By taking calculated risks and learning as a young engineer, you can grow and develop quickly in your career.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I would like to give a shoutout to the mechanical engineering team here at Neato Robotics. Being one of the youngest in the team, our senior engineers have been great mentors throughout my career thus far. I look forward to continue learning and working with my team to design the next industry leading robot vacuum.