Welcome to the next feature of our Leaders in Tech editorial series. Speaking to leaders in the industry to capture their stories, career highs and lows, their trials and successes, their current company and their role, most recent projects, advice to others, and the individuals who they most look up to in the industry.
Today, we talked to Hector Medina, Quality Engineer Supervisor at BD, to find out more about why he joined the tech industry, what his role entails, what are the challenges he faces, and his advice to aspiring engineers and testers.
First of all, can you tell me a bit about yourself and your current role?
My name is Hector Medina Martinez. I am Mexican, I am a family man and I am 33 years old.
I have been working in the manufacturing process in Mexico (Tijuana, BC) “La maquila” since 2008 when I was in the 4th semester of college in UABC. For the last 11 years, I have been working at BD (Becton Dickinson) as a Quality Engineering Supervisor for operations, new product introduction, process, and software validation for manufacturing.
I also started supporting a nonprofit organization to help high school teams to reach the FIRST Robotics competition, help launch the first teams in Tijuana to go over this competition, and have an annual event to gather teams from the US and MX to share this experience with all the new generations.
Can you tell me about your journey and how did you get where you are now?
Through ups and downs. I become supervising engineering at 28 but lasted less than a year. Two years later, I was again an engineering supervisor in the same company, but in a different business unit.
Working at a global company has given me a lot of training and not just in manufacturing but also in business. I got to interact with people all around the globe. These kinds of experiences can mostly be acquired in a big company.
But you must never forget your commitment and passion. I like people and, when I am in a team, I like to support everyone and assure them that we will get to the goal in form and time. Most of my teammates have migrated to other factories as they have not found the opportunities for development. I am good here as I still want to grow and interact with people all around the globe.
What inspired you to get involved in the IT industry?
It was mostly by mistake. I am not a very technical person, if you put me in front of an electrical issue I won’t be able to support immediately, but I understood that it is mostly about the entries, the process, and a specific output. After an internship in a company, I got into programming a CMM (Coordinate measuring machine) for incoming inspection. Then, I got involved with equipment and learning calibration methods, and got the opportunity to lead SAP Calibration module integration (software validation) into our quality system.
As I was part of the few people in quality manufacturing with a background in equipment, I got into the transfer of several automated machines that produce millions of sub-assemblies a month with several testing occurring during the assembly as a leak, flow, visual cameras. All these machines came with GUI and software that were custom-made for the company, so we needed to perform software validation following the V-Model.
At that time, I was just following company procedures, still not understanding everything. I got supervision in these areas but changes occurred and I became a manufacturing engineer.
Then, I started to seek new opportunities and came into an electromechanical area as Project Quality Engineer for manufacturing 4.0 where the vision of Director, the manager, had the vision to transform the manufacturing process into modeling and predictive. There, I developed software to gather data directly from manufacturing. I currently work in electronic device history record that will create a paperless system being developed in-home, and I still play the role of quality technical reviewer for all of the software.
What is your expertise?
Mostly related to manufacturing integration, process, test method, and software validation to be used in manufacturing, calibration of equipment. Quality system (ISO 13485, FDA 820), investigation methodologies, manager of non-conformance material.
What is a typical day for you?
Reviewing with my team how we will achieve the strategic goals for the business, plan and develop the strategies to achieve the goals, speak and talk to my team to focus them on the priorities established by management.
Collaboration is key and I need to assure that we have all the steps covered during the validation to review for robustness, security, and performance of the system.
What are the challenges you faced during your career?
People not trusting you and your work.
In Mexico, there is not a lot of expertise related to automation, software validation, design as it is more focused on a manual hand assembly process. Therefore, getting guidelines for testing is complicated. In Mexico, there is not enough training related to software quality principles, so that has not been easy but with the help of some of my teammates, we have been able to gather more knowledge and assure our validation is trustworthy.
What are your current goals? What projects are you currently working on?
Professionally, I would like to grow to a manager and then director, to be able to have a higher impact on the company and help support them. For the near future, I would like to assure the completeness of electronic device history records aligns with requirements from the FDA. After that, we are planning a live Process FMEA with live occurrence from the production floor. This will help reduce the risk from manufacturing as well as help the internet of things and prediction in our equipment to be more efficient.
On another side, with the robotics project, I would like to have the largest robotics competition in the northeast of the country and be able to attract more young people into STEM careers.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
To have been able to share my experience with the high schoolers, mostly because many of them were not planning on going into engineering. Actually, some of them were not thinking of going to school at all. One of the proudest teams we work with is Robybam, while other teams are already focused on robotics. It is incredible to be able to give people life learning experiences.
What do you think is the best thing about being an engineer?
Being able to understand that everything is a process and can be improved. Apply the methodologies in real life: how I will be lean in life, how I will automatize my life to be more productive.
The second thing would be sharing this knowledge with others, showing them that their learning curve is not in the internet of things, but in life.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
Be honest and do things the proper way. Or it can come back at you. Work and always have different road options, like Dr. Strange, see what are all the possible scenarios, even when you don’t like them. You may need it for negotiation and having already considered all options will give you an advantage.
Share what you have learned, don’t be selfish. The more the people around know, the more they will be able to handle it by themselves. This will give you additional time to think about strategy and not being executing.
Do you have any advice for aspiring testers and engineers?
For any engineer or anyone to be curious! You can always ask someone around and find help, and if not, do your research, find a book about the subject, and get an overall perspective of the process and your topic.
Finally, do you have a memorable story or anecdote from your experience you would like to share with us?
One of the most valuable experiences comes while sharing with others. During my first rookie year with one team, there was a shutdown. I couldn’t’ understand what was happening so I started chatting with one of the most extroverted kids and I learned that he had never gone out of the city by himself or been on a plane. But he told me: “Just remind who you really are”. That was it. Then, he was making connections with teams all over the nation and helped the team find an electro valve that was missing. He may not have been the best in mechanics but his soft skills were already in development.