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The Masters of Engineering Podcast

Technology Podcasts

Cool Products, the People Who Develop Them, and How They Do It. Host Jon Hirschtick chats with innovators in product development and explores what it takes to turn ideas into reality.


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Cool Products, the People Who Develop Them, and How They Do It. Host Jon Hirschtick chats with innovators in product development and explores what it takes to turn ideas into reality.




A Deep Dive into Sustainable Fish Farms – Tony White, Director of Innovation at Forever Oceans

Forever Oceans is a sustainable fish farming company using innovative technology to generate less waste and impact on the environment while producing tasty and healthier fish in a shorter amount of time. Their approach to restorative aquaculture is revolutionizing the industry, and includes habitats that plunge deeper into the ocean to protect fish during hurricanes. In this episode, Jon chats with Tony White, Director of Innovation at Forever Oceans, who shares how machine learning and AI are transforming the future of food. He also reveals why his company’s fish farms have 1/14th the carbon footprint of raising cattle.


Robotic Sign Language Interpreters – Samantha Johnson, Founder and CEO of Tatum Robotics

In the DeafBlind community (people who cannot hear or see), only 10 percent are able to communicate through traditional braille, which first requires knowledge of a primary spoken language like English. Most DeafBlind people depend on tactile sign language – holding onto the hand of their communication partner – to talk with others, leaving them totally isolated when interpreters are unavailable. Boston startup Tatum Robotics is developing a humanoid robotic hand (the “Tatum T1”) that is able to translate speech or text into tactile sign language. In this episode, Jon chats with Tatum Robotics founder Samantha Johnson, who explains her company’s mission to provide tabletop robotic hand interpreters for DeafBlind people, delivering the first technology supporting their communication independence. Samantha shares both the hardware and software challenges of creating a tactile signing robot – and reveals she’s been “getting more hugs than she’s ever received” for helping improve people’s quality of life.


Uber for Potatoes – Automotive Engineers Natalie Dowsett & Kristiana Hamilton, of OX Delivers

Rwanda’s mountainous dirt roads are notoriously dangerous terrain for the country’s farmers, who struggle to get their crops to market before it spoils. UK-based OX Delivers has introduced a fleet of pay-as-you-go rugged trucks that is helping farmers transport their goods quickly, safely and affordably – making local communities more economically sustainable. In this episode, Jon chats to automotive engineers Natalie Dowsett and Kristiana Hamilton about their company’s new electric OX delivery trucks and their unorthodox design for easy repair and maintenance in rural Africa. Natalie and Kristiana also share their inspiration for choosing engineering careers, and their hopes for spreading OX Delivers’ positive impact to other countries.


Treating Product Design Like a Sport – Too Tall Toby, Speed Modeling Enthusiast

Does using product development software give you an adrenaline rush? If so, you may want to start competing in Too Tall Toby’s monthly speedmodeling challenges on YouTube. Welcoming users of any CAD system, Toby Schnaars challenges competitors to create the same 3D models as fast as they can without sacrificing accuracy – as he comments on their techniques for a live audience. The winners face off at his annual “World Championship of 3D CAD.” In this episode, Jon explores how the skills developed and lessons learned from speed modeling are applicable to the everyday professional world. Toby, meanwhile, explains why he sees CAD competitions as more like “wizards’ battles” than sports, and he also muses how much luck is a factor in who becomes champion.


Can Seaweed Reverse Climate Change? – Laurel Tincher and Arin Crumley, Co-Founders of Pull to Refresh

Seaweed is not only a trendy health food for humans and abundant nourishment for marine life, it’s also a potential tool for reversing climate change. Backed by an XPRIZE Carbon Removal grant, Pull to Refresh is a startup aiming to balance global atmospheric CO2 levels by sinking carbon-rich invasive seaweed to the floor of the deep Atlantic Ocean. In this episode, Jon interviews company co-founders Laurel Tincher and Arin Crumley about their ambitious plans and the science behind using algae to neutralize carbon emissions. He also explores how Laurel and Arin built a prototype unmanned vessel for seaweed collection despite each having no engineering background.


Craig Derian: Building a House Like a Car | Master's of Engineering Podcast

Conventional home construction is typically slow, unpredictable, and expensive. But what if the best practices from auto manufacturing were applied to house building to make the process more efficient? Craig Derian, VP of Engineering at Cover, joins the podcast to explain his company’s mission to radically change the way prefabricated custom homes are built – making them more affordable, while significantly eliminating traditional construction waste. In this episode, Jon explores Craig’s previous career as an engineering manager at Tesla and a senior race engineer for NASCAR teams, asking which design lessons learned in the automotive world can improve tomorrow’s homes. Craig also shares why Socrates’ idea of “Caring for the Soul” strongly influences his career path.


Mark Sanders: Design Should Be Elegant | Master's of Engineering Podcast

Folding bikes have been around since at least World War I, but Mark Sanders always found modern versions too heavy or clunky for urban commutes. So during his student days at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, he created his own. His eclectic triangular design looked like an art sculpture – and his school project later went into commercial production as the STRiDA ( bike. In this episode, Mark tells Jon how the STRiDA first got manufactured – despite industry doubts about his unorthodox chainless design. Now the principal of the MAS Design Products ( consultancy, Mark shares insights learned from designing candy vending machines, kitchen gadgets, bicycles, car engines, and electric aircraft. He also explains why “elegant” is his favorite word. Listen to this podcast on major podcast platforms here:


Byron Bloch: A Half-Century Fight for Auto Safety | Master's of Engineering Podcast

Auto safety design expert Byron Bloch has dedicated his 50+ year career to preventing needless injuries and deaths on the roads. He has testified in numerous landmark auto defect cases, specializing in fuel tank fires, truck underride hazards, rollovers and roof crushes, seat backrest collapse, airbags that kill or injure, and school bus hazards. In this episode, Byron shares the most significant auto design defects in history, and tells Jon what manufacturers need to do moving forward. He highlights America’s “vehicle obesity” problem, questioning why a 5,000-pound vehicle is needed to transport a 150-pound person. Byron also gives listeners safety advice on what to look for in a new car, briefly detouring to reminisce about his one-time appearance on “The Dating Game” TV show. You can also listen to this podcast on major podcast platforms here:


Baseball Pitching Robots – Joshua Pope, Co-Founder and CEO of Trajekt Sports

Behind the scenes, at least seven Major League Baseball teams are training their hitters with intelligent pitching robots. The teams will not go public yet for competitive reasons, but these robots can potentially change the way every professional ballplayer gets ready before a game. Guest Joshua Pope is the co-founder and CEO of Trajekt Sports, creator of the first pitching machine that uses advanced robotics and AI to recreate any pitch imaginable in the exact style and delivery matching individual players. The introduction of the Trajekt Arc means that (hypothetically) slugger Vlad Guerrero Jr. could practice against the robot version of ace Justin Verlander moments before facing the real one! In this episode, Joshua tells Jon the physics behind his creation, how it began as a conversation with high school friends, talks about the novelty of MLB pitchers trying to bat against “themselves,” and ponders the possibility of his technology showing up at amusement parks and baseball stadiums for the fans.


Jake Hall: The Manufacturing Millennial | Master's of Engineering Podcast

An estimated 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled in the United States by 2030, but young people aren’t stampeding toward those careers. Industry advocate Jake Hall hopes to change that – one social media hit at a time. Better known as the “Manufacturing Millennial,” his educational content promoting the industry on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube has attracted more than 50 million views. In this episode, Jake explains how he is trying to change the Millennial perception that modern factories are still gloomy, dangerous places – exploring the highly skilled, highly paid career opportunities that await them. Jake and Jon discuss how even global manufacturers need to think locally, investing more resources into vocational schools and community colleges. And they also bond over being fellow Chicago Cubs fans and the joy of eating Vienna hot dogs at Wrigley Field. Onshape is the only product design platform that combines 3D CAD, PDM, collaboration, and analytics tools in the cloud. Every episode going forward will be on Youtube, and you can also listen in on the major podcast platforms here:


Ben Eadie: Making Things That Go “Kaboom!” | Masters of Engineering Podcast

Welcome to the Masters of Engineering podcast, hosted by Jon Hirschtick. Every month Jon will sit down with engineering leaders to discuss their products and the stories behind developing them. Not every car or building explosion in a Hollywood production is done with CGI. There’s still a place for physical explosive gadgets and human stunt people. That’s when mechanical engineer Ben Eadie’s cell phone rings. Based in Canada, Ben is often called upon to design eclectic props such as a robotic “Wilson” volleyball for a Tom Hanks appearance at a baseball game, or a giant rig simulating a spaceship under attack in “Star Trek Beyond.” In this episode, Ben tells Jon Hirschtick how computer-aided design (CAD) skills got him into the movie business, why he thinks military training is the ideal preparation for designing special effects, and reflects on the emotional toll of playing with fire. “The thing is that I’m taking people who are very good friends of mine, and I may have just made a death machine for them,” Ben says. “You’ve got people out there trusting you with their lives and that is very humbling.” Every episode going forward will be on Youtube, and you can also listen in on the major podcast platforms here:


Matt Kressy: Cross-Pollination Between Business & Engineering | Masters of Engineering Podcast

Welcome to the Masters of Engineering podcast, hosted by Jon Hirschtick, EVP, Onshape. Every month Jon will sit down with engineering leaders to discuss their products and the stories behind developing them. In this edition of the podcast, Jon chats with Matt Kressy, who is the founder of MIT’s Integrated Design and Management (IDM) program, a first-of-its-kind master’s degree program that combines the methodologies of the world’s best design schools with the world’s best engineering and business schools. Are you looking to learn how can business executives benefit by learning product development skills. How can hardware engineers be more effective by learning fundamental business concepts? In this episode, Matt shares how product developers and managers can boost their impact by spending time in each other’s shoes – and tells Jon how MIT’s IDM curriculum has now been reimagined for middle school and high school students. According to Matt, the best time for introducing pragmatic product design skills isn’t college, but age 11! Listen to the complete episode to gain all the insights.


Rony Abovitz: Bringing Star Wars to Life with Magic Leap and Mako Surgical

In this episode, Jon talks with Rony Abovitz - the founder of Magic Leap, co-founder of Mako Surgical, and currently the founder/CEO of Sun and Thunder. Jon and Rony discuss raising over $3 billion in funding, the vision of Magic Leap, meeting George Lucas (yup you read that right!), and bringing Star Wars to life! Every episode going forward will be on Youtube as well:


Eco-Friendly 3D Printing: Samantha Snabes, Co-Founder of re:3D

Inspired by her travels with the Johnson Space Center’s “Engineers Without Borders” team, Samantha Snabes has helped launch some of the largest and most affordable industrial 3D printers in the world. Her company, re:3D, is the manufacturer of the Gigabot, a giant 3D printer that boasts a build volume starting at 30X the size of desktop printers. The eco-friendly Gigabot sells for one-tenth the cost of typical industrial printers, can print directly from plastic waste, and has customers in more than 50 countries. In this podcast, Snabes shares her observations of how 3D printing is radically transforming the way we think about product design. “The vision for what you will make changes as soon as you start printing it,” she says. “Designers will often say within the first three layers, they’ve found a way to improve their idea. Just starting to see the outline of the physical form inspires new ideas.” Snabes also chats with Jon about her experiences in the Mississippi National Guard, where she serves in an emergency response unit for hurricane and disaster relief.


Going Electric: Azizi Tucker, Co-Founder and CTO of XING Mobility

Tinkering with his first CAD system as a 13-year-old boy in Oakland, California, Azizi Tucker has since devoted much of his professional life to the development of electric vehicle technology worldwide. As employee #100 of Tesla, he worked on supplier development throughout Asia for the Model S and Model Y, and later co-founded XING Mobility, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of modular electric battery and powertrain systems for the mining, construction and agriculture industries. He is also the founder of Graft, a custom manufacturer of bespoke electric motorcycles and quad off-road racing vehicles. In this podcast, Azizi reveals how his company helps convert commercial trucks and industrial vehicles from diesel to electric while allowing manufacturers to retain their existing vehicle designs. He also chats with Jon about the challenges of achieving more diversity in the engineering world, not just racial and cultural diversity, but a mix of talent from beyond the usual elite universities.


Will Electric Air Taxis Rescue Our Morning Commute? – Sean McCluskey, Additive Lead for Joby Aviation

Sean McCluskey is the additive lead at Joby Aviation, overseeing design, manufacturing, and certification of 3D-printed components on the company’s four-passenger electric air taxi now under development. The innovative aircraft takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter, then smoothly transitions to forward flight. A pioneer in the urban air taxi market, Joby Aviation’s goal is to reduce traffic congestion and give people “more freedom to choose where they work, live, and play.” In this podcast, Sean tells Jon how battery technology, additive manufacturing, and advanced composite materials are changing the world of aviation design. Containing more than a thousand 3D-printed parts – including titanium airframe components – this air taxi could redefine the aircraft development process.


How the Rise Emergency Ventilator Was Built From Scratch in 21 Days: Eduardo Torrealba, CEO of Meter

Eduardo Torrealba is the co-founder and CEO of Meter, an industrial hardware startup that took on the challenge of building a more affordable ventilator in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. A typical medical device can take many months or even years to bring to market. The Rise Emergency Ventilator went from idea to deliverable mass-produced product in 21 days. In this podcast, Eduardo tells Jon how his extended team of 50 professionals – engineers, hospital clinicians, software developers, and 3D printing experts – designed, built, and tested six iterations of the emergency ventilator. He also shares how cloud productivity tools (and unsustainable 120-hour work weeks) made this amazing collaborative effort possible.


Reimagining How Machine Parts Get Made: Mitch Free, Founder of ZYCI and

Mitch Free is a college dropout who partnered with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to build, the first online marketplace bringing together product designers and manufacturers. The serial entrepreneur is now seeking to improve the way every machine part in the world gets made. He’s currently the founder and CEO of ZYCI (pronounced “ZEE-key”), a CNC-machining, plastic molding and additive manufacturing company serving the aerospace and defense industries. In this podcast, Mitch reminisces with Jon about his unusual career path from refurbishing used aircraft for Northwest Airlines to running his own design software business to figuring out how to cut Ferrium M54, one of the toughest steels ever made.


Pickpocket-Proof Backpacks: Sarah Giblin, Founder of Riut

Sarah Giblin is an accidental designer. While waiting to get off an airplane, she noticed a fellow passenger nervously unzip his backpack and stuff his wallet and passport in his front jeans pocket. She soon unconsciously found herself reacting the same way: “My God, is my wallet and passport still there?” And then imagined an endless queue of backpack wearers concerned that the person behind them had easier access to their valuables than they did. In this podcast, Sarah tells Jon how she developed the RiutBag, a backpack with zippers that go flush against the wearer’s back (with no zippers on the outside), and how she navigated the product development world without any design or manufacturing background.


Styling Iconic Sports Cars: Mark Ferri, Designer of the Corvette Stingray

Ever wonder how your favorite sports car or luxury car got its classic look? Guest Mark Ferri, a senior industrial designer for Uber, was previously a designer at General Motors for 17 years. At GM. he personally styled (using both clay models and computer design) the Corvette Stingray, the Camaro 6, the Cadillac XTS and many other vehicle exteriors and interiors. In this episode, Mark reveals the challenges of redesigning the look of iconic car brands, and offers advice to aspiring product designers who are still in school.