Milan Cerovic | Strategies for Succeeding at New Product Development
Who is Milan Cerovic?
Milan Cerovic spent over 25 years at Taser as a designer and NPD manager. Milan now works as the VP or R&D at Wrap, where they empower law enforcement officers with innovative training and tools to take individuals safely into custody without having to use force and reducing the risk of injury to subjects and to officers. Join our discussion to learn Milan’s tips on how engineers can succeed at product development, as well as his process for starting new design & development projects.
EXPAND TO VIEW EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION
Aaron Moncur 00:00
Live today we are introducing a new program to the being an engineer podcast to recognize engineers who excel in their field, go to Team pipeline.us/excellence. And fill out the form with the name of your nominee and a short description of what makes him or her deserving of the award. Winners will be announced and recognized on the show and will receive some complimentary being an engineer podcasts swag. The program is live right now go to Team pipeline.us/excellence and given engineer the recognition he or she deserves.
Milan Cerovic 00:37
One thing is that brings you joy is just the process of creation seeing something materialize. Holding the product in your hand. Any reform as you expected or even better, it’s probably the biggest joy of all.
Aaron Moncur 01:03
Hello, and welcome to another episode of The being an engineer Podcast. Today we’re speaking with Milan Cerovic who spent over 25 years at Taser as a designer and NPD manager, Milan now works as the VP of r&d at Wrap where they empower law enforcement officers with innovative training and tools to take individuals safely into custody without having to use force and reducing the risk of injury to subjects and to officers. Milan, thank you so much for joining me today.
Milan Cerovic 01:36
No, thank you for inviting me.
Aaron Moncur 01:39
Well, what made you decide originally to pursue a career in product development?
Milan Cerovic 01:45
Well, basically, I think you are since the early days of schooling. Growing up in Europe, he has technical education classes in elementary school, then that transpires in to making a selection for your profession. When you attend the high school high schools over there are very specific medical, technical chemistry. So I chose a technical high school and then everything took its own course after that.
Aaron Moncur 02:08
Interesting. Okay, and you’re from is it Serbia,
Milan Cerovic 02:11
basically was former Yugoslavia. Yes. I was born in Sarajevo and then after the country split apart came to U.S in 94.
Aaron Moncur 02:19
Okay. And growing up? I mean, did you always know that? That’s kind of what you wanted to get into as a profession that, like engineering, product development design space?
Milan Cerovic 02:30
Yes, yes. I think my dad’s a carpenter. So having access to all type of tools, when you were really young, start making things and then have a couple of cousins do electronics industries, couple of cousins in mechanical engineering, so had access to some of the very minimal but some of the exposure to those disciplines. And then everything kind of clicked in when I started taking classes in elementary school and then see like, hey, what’s the difference? Electrical, Mechanical Engineering. So mechanical engineering, particularly design was the main interests. So
Aaron Moncur 03:02
and you took that in elementary school,
Milan Cerovic 03:04
Yeah we have a basically a small medical, technical education classes, small amount of exposure to everything, like providing some small, like a very simple lighting circuits, and then you are making almost like a Lego robotics sets and carving things. And basically, they expose you a little bit of technical science.
Aaron Moncur 03:24
That’s great. I wish they had that here. I think the first time I was formally introduced to engineering, at least within an academic environment was college, it would have been amazing if I had some kind of courses earlier on, even in high school. I mean, I had like physics and stuff in high school, we got to build some fun things there. But it wasn’t, you know, formally based, like engineering or really technical. All right. Well, what what’s been one of the most exciting or just interesting projects that you’ve worked on in your career.
Milan Cerovic 03:56
Like I said, I spent the majority of my career working for Taser, Axon and most interesting projects for most likely if I can compare our first foray into modern design CWS conducted energy weapons broke ground there, then work for the awesome team or camera design. And then now, we did the same type of thing, modernizing bolawrap 150 device, looking at the ball 100 existing device, purely mechanical, very cumbersome, hard to make, we can like, you know, gave it to overhaul made that. So between those three projects, to kind of start the whole category of products falling behind them, and I was fortunate enough and blessed enough to be in the forefront of those developments.
Aaron Moncur 04:46
Yeah. Those three projects encompass what like over 25 years 25 to 30 years of work, right. I mean, those are huge and anything any I don’t know like small subsets, something you worked on for a month or a few months that come to mind has been like particularly challenging or interesting or fulfilling.
Milan Cerovic 05:12
In particular, right now it’s WRAP the most, I think challenging part was redesigned. Like I set the basically up holder for the WRAP Kevlar and anchors in our new product. The previous one was like aluminum machined the blank inside very, very cumbersome, very crude event into our using the technology used in Arabic initiators redesigned the anchors, plastic metal hybrid mix, probably more in line in manufacturing technologies used today rather than testing machine everything for one time use. So that was kind of challenging, additional projects that were kind of fun. That took a long time, probably the first concept of the body cam that we did almost like as a side project, you weren’t even supposed to work on it, one of my colleagues from Axon, and then presented that say, Hey, we took basically we took the Taser cam, the camera that was mounted underneath the Taser devices and wrapped around and create the housing and carrier to put it on a chest. And then. So we have a couple of those interesting projects. Dietrich’s 2626, like working against some big companies kind of like having my own ideas and kind of stacked up against larger and more experienced teams that are kind of getting some of the design aspects and reading design over that was kind of fun.
Aaron Moncur 06:38
Tell me a little bit more about the camera at Taser axon. You said you weren’t even supposed to be working on it. How did how did that even come to be?
Milan Cerovic 06:46
Well, the Taser was the first company who launched the on officer video cameras that were basically attached to our bottom of our devices. And the one drawback of that is devices are mostly pointing down at the ground to deescalate situations. So you got a lot of good video, but mostly good audio. So at the time, you’re looking into different type of wearable devices, most of the emphasis was carrying the camera head, because the heads basically follows the eyes. So you can have a first eye view of the police officers. But then somebody said, What about these body worn cameras, everything on the market is there to cover some basic or very small, kind of like a hobbyist. So he said you already have a good camera. So let me just make a concept to show off to our team. How, how should I say robust, adequate still size, conscientious you can make it so it was one of those like a weekend slash afternoon project, because you’re still focusing on the body worn cameras and with all the water falling off of corresponding carrying options. But this was more like, hey, let’s do this for fun and show that they can do something else as well.
Aaron Moncur 07:55
Nice. And it wasn’t a pretty simple process. Once you had the prototype in place and showed it to the rest of the team. Did they jump on board pretty quickly? Or was there a lot of you know, push that you had to do in order to convince people that this is the right solution?
Milan Cerovic 08:10
Yeah, yeah, I, I think I think once we start talking about it very early on, the path was chosen to combine the controller functions for both head cams and body cams to be on the body. So imagine just the image or being on a head, everything else is on a body. So just putting imager back onto the body device, you get the camera almost for free. So so that was a fun part of modular development. So one thing is design and conceptualization. And one thing is real developer, you really sit down and talk about like, Hey, what are we really trying to accomplish? And what can we get out of it as well? So yeah,
Aaron Moncur 08:47
well, I love stories like that, because it shows the the innovation of the engineering team, right? And the leadership team wasn’t necessarily asking you to go do this. He just thought, hey, I think this is a better solution. And so pulled a group of engineers together and got something designed and, and lo and behold, that turned out to be the solution that the company went with.
Milan Cerovic 09:09
Yeah, it was it was more to show the human element of the camera, what basic functions do we need, why overcomplicate or undermine certain functions? So once you have something you can show and pass around and test and record, it’s much easier than talking about it like mood boards are fine and sketches are fine. But once you have some days, you can actually turn on basically put it on your chest or your lapel and then see hey, how the angles look like what is the aiming look like? How the how the user, the operator, the end, subject will treat that particular product. There was invaluable. You know, of course, there was so primitive in approach what the real product looked like but it gave us an opportunity to say what type of lens we need, what type of commands gloves. You know, what type of up basic functions that camera shoot. have. So all the subsequent projects gonna follow the same banner?
Aaron Moncur 10:05
Yeah, the value of having a physical prototype to pass around looks like feels like? Well, you have so much experience working with product development teams. In your experience, what are a few common ways that engineering teams mess up product development?
Milan Cerovic 10:24
Oh, yeah, there’s there’s more than one Yep. If I can basically, sometimes it’s lack of direction. Basically, if you if you don’t have a good requirements, I consider that a research. Don’t call it development. And that’s the thing, the biggest stigma, that kind of leads in a second reason why engineering messes up, we can do really, how shall I say exceptional things in research, make things look and perform as the real product. The problem is, there is no content behind them. They usually don’t pay attention to durability, sealing modularity disassembly assembly when we’re doing research. So if you don’t define that you can spend years doing research and still mess it. And then second thing is once we present the particular development to additional stakeholders, project managers, product managers, and so on, if they don’t understand what you’re showing them, they’ll either diminish it, you know, how should I say functionality saying, Oh, this is not good enough or accepted as a face value? Oh, this is ready to go. So besides that, in my mind, just setting expectations, right, of course, technical progress tools used, that all plays a role. But if you don’t know what you’re really trying to do, it’s the hardest thing then to outline the path towards getting there in a harsher salary timeframe, money function feature set. So I think the majority of projects that we’re challenging, were the ones that we set up with one set of intent and one set of goals and then middle of the project, they start evolving without everybody else, knowing why they’re evolving. Is it a cause a timeframe is a feature set. So that’s very demoralizing. When you have engineers that are demoralized most of these years are perfectionist, and slightly OCD. They just lose interest. And that’s devastating.
Aaron Moncur 12:16
Yeah, yeah. What have you found to be an appropriate balance of speaking about requirements documents? Finding those requirements based on rigorous market research, whether it be you know, user discussion groups or, or things like that, versus the engineering team comes up with? Well, we think that it should have these requirements that this is what the user really wants, it seems like there’s always some mix of the two, have you found that it really needs to be heavily biased towards one side? Or the other? Or? Or is there generally look just kind of like a 50 5050 mix?
Milan Cerovic 13:01
You know, for the industry we’re in? Honestly speaking, it’s a very, how shall I say narrow band of things you can do? You have to worry about durability, the appearance, functionality effectiveness, it’s, you know, it’s very professional based products, I kind of work mostly for law enforcement products. When I would say you can’t go to customers for everything. So you have to outline key strategists in the company, they can be from injury, they can be from sales, they can be from, from management, but somebody who is basically having the finger on the pulse of the of the of the market. So as to questions what do we have whatever problems to solve? Can we make a better mousetrap to solve a better problem, and then what other problems customers current customers have, they don’t even know about? Because once you have access to a large group of individuals, professional or civilian, you will start observing their behavior, especially around your product, but then all sorts of other products. So I think setting up the requirements, firstly has to come from somebody if it’s a new product from somebody who is almost like uncovering the problem, injury and can do that. But engineers, we don’t go out to talk to customers that much, at least, you know, you can have opportunity to do that as well if you’re more of a research engineer. But engineering requirements are really good for a spin off or B or evolutionary products. But for initialize, it has to be a good mix of a promoters of new ideas. A strategist like I said, it can be from engineering as well, in a key corps of engineers understand the technology you want to play with. And once you’ve created the requirements document, accept it as a living document, it will change. So in my career, I think the best projects are the one that will run to some type of quality function deployment. It’s a term from automotive industry. We kind of like took it and deconstruct it a little bit. It came from Ford, I guess they created a vehicle that was awesome. Nobody wanted to buy it because it yours, whatever it is they want, but the customers like wow know what this really means. So they create these like charts saying, hey, you know what, let’s see customers wants to engineering house, you make a chart and then you can read the features and then you flip the chart and basically assign risk ratings and value ratings to these during house, then you present that to management to say, Hey, you want this to get the outline these features or to achieve these features, these are the risks I left. And then that’s what makes that requirements document living document once, once the dream presents that being brutally honest, I think everybody who’s involved, I’m saying managed, but not the company management, project management, product management can sit down and say, Hey, which one of these features we need, depending on a risk, cost and time, those are the best projects. And then if you can give that to system is reading group, they can develop a set of tests for each development phase, you keep brutal honesty alive. So once you split up the tasks to more digestible tests with teams, then you track them tests to our SPS DBT CBT is BVDs. And if anybody’s lacking either execution, like we can’t just achieve what we set to achieve. Other teams can help because everybody knows what everybody else is doing. So in my experience, that was probably the best way to run the project without destroying it. So outline what you want to do, knowing you may change it, it will change, there will be points that we can probably do some trade offs. And then clearly outlined who does what other than that, you know, like a small team that created our trip, a couple of people who do everything, but it’s very easy, because you don’t have too many, you know, like requirements, if you have requirements that we set based on a bowl of one 100. So you can see kind of like, you know, from those type of products, like evolutionary products, engineering is probably the most capable outlining what needs to happen, we have something we have to make it better. But we are trying to make something kind of like based on a some type of a problem somebody needs to solve or identified, it’s best to have all teams humanitarian operations, product and program management, assuming one of those teams will have the strategists on board.
Aaron Moncur 17:15
Yeah, that’s great. Let’s say that you’re about to start a new project that you have a requirements document in place, you know, what it is you’re supposed to develop design? What, what’s your mental checklist for starting the design and development phases? Like what what are some of the best practices that that you go through at the beginning of a project?
Milan Cerovic 17:42
That’s a good question. Depending on the project, even I saw the timeline and probably projected costs, because ultimately, in most of the projects we work with, it comes down to those two. And then expectations, who is your strategist are the strategists driving the project more on a functional side, more appearance side, or somewhere in between. And then seriously, like, like I mentioned before, you’ll be nice to kind of outline what are the most critical, you know, system performance functions you need to achieve. And then prototype those very early spend money on prototyping those to highest fidelity, you know, if it’s a, if it’s a switch, if it’s a slider, if it’s a laser, if it’s a light if it’s a outside design prototype in your in your SP phase system prototype phase, because if you showed that, like, hey, people want to have 15 different switches to test do it early. Because once you select something, then you can integrate it later. In a parallel if you have led to turn a theme, it’s nice to start doing the packaging like skin overs over some basic components to see what its gonna look like. If you can basically perform those two functions more like industrial design and design engineering on one end like systemic and then outline the best portions or most critical portions of the system and prototype those very early on. Once you meet those two, it’s very easy to go to your DVT design verification test say hey now I have to merge them to some type of prototype but at least I know what everybody is selected otherwise it’s a lot of repetition on a higher scale system builds so it’s much much easier to cherry pick the most important thing is it goes for electrical too I mean I work with electrical guys and you know a lot of times we make breadboards and fail and you know basically smoke them off and you know, do it on a on a nondescript flat panel. The components basically give yourself chance to iterate rather than you know, like you said, Run rocks up, get to a shape and size get to the form factor and then you fail then what you first spent a lot of time getting there second thing you almost desensitize the your customers internal or external always can be it’s very hard Have backtracked from that. So. So that’s in my experience, probably that what I would like to do is outline who the customers, how many teams we have, and then identify the most critical components for success and prototype those first work on those first analyze those first.
Aaron Moncur 20:14
You mentioned industrial design, what have you found? Is the how do I say this? I guess the hierarchy between industrial design and engineering? Is it often the industrial design that kind of leads the engineering? Or is it the the technical development, the engineering that then informs and leads the industrial design? Or is it some kind of mix?
Milan Cerovic 20:40
I think it’s a mix, and probably from experience as well. There are different types of designers, engineers, so most of the product development engineers that work on something that human hand is going to touch somebody who’s going to human factors involved are also becoming industrial designers, because our CAD packages are so powerful right now that you know industrial designers can help maybe outline a familiarity with a line of products. So, you know, companies may look feel touch, but then majority of injuries, designers, I worked engineers, I worked, they have a strong propensity towards exploring industrial design aspects in our own design, CAD software’s and they are getting better and better. So, so So yes, I would, I would think the best approach I found is try to almost like in a free space, put all the components that need to be in there, and then give it to either industrial designers or somebody who has more than industrial design mindset to wrap some skin over. And then either working coherently or kind of letting somebody else take care of assigning you know, certain about textures, colors, materials, and prototype very early either to like some of those like a KeyShot type, almost like a augmented reality. software’s or the real 3d prints, and then spend some time with the painting, assigning colors and everything else to get the real good handheld model, I think the line is getting really blurred. A lot of industrial designers, when they finish school, they jump straight in the gene software is and start design. And a lot of engineers when they start getting introduced to a capabilities of this of the software’s that they work on their designs, almost by default, take a lot of industrial design aspects. Taking care of like a, you know, like a beauty lines and details and textures. It’s like I said, you know, last probably 10 years, it’s getting really blurry. Who leaves what?
Aaron Moncur 22:44
Yeah, yeah, one of our industrial designers is really good at General mechanical design as well. In fact, I’d say he’s quite a bit faster in certain tasks than most of our engineers, especially when it comes to something like consumer product design. And we’re designing injection molding and putting bosses and ribs on the inside and things like that. Just super fast and very, very technically skilled. See, what what general skills do you think are most important to being a successful engineer general skills are characteristics traits?
Milan Cerovic 23:21
You know, if you think about, especially in the latter price, I think we both are the basically the product development for everyday use either professional or in civilian or basically consumer world. I think first people have to have an eye for detail. And then I think one of the best traits is to have propensity to build things, to have somewhat of mechanical attitudes, to be able to go in a shop and understand how things are built. Also, I think experience over time, gets you more proficient or ascending what other technologies exists. It’s very hard to design out of the box. And then the one thing I found, at least in my opinion, is in low engineers or not, is to be organized. You know, in every team, you’re going to probably have about 5050 Mix 50% of like a mad scientist and organized engineers and about 50% of like, really, you know, good, methodical approach engineers. And in my experience, that probably worked the best. I tend to lean on organized side, and I like to work with organized people. But you know, working with, like I said, mad scientists that are not really organized, worked out fine, as long as some of us exist to kind of like, not get to the focus when we start getting to new ideas.
Aaron Moncur 24:43
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I’ve certainly worked with engineers. Well, lots of engineers who they almost have this intuitive sense, this mechanical aptitude for how to build something, how to use the right tool, to put something together and to create a prototype maybe hack a few parts together to produce some kind of test scenario. And then on the other end of the spectrum, engineers who I sometimes wonder why they became engineers, because they don’t like have that aptitude. They’re good at other things, right? Like, you know, maybe research or documentation or things like that, but they just don’t have that innate sense of mechanical aptitude and skill. And in for r&d, design and development projects, you know, NPD stuff, you know, it’s very clear that those with a mechanical aptitude are just far more efficient at that work.
Milan Cerovic 25:39
Yeah, and it seems like, like I said, maybe in our education systems, we don’t get, how shall I say, introduced to some of those classes or opportunities. And then some engineers, especially when I was in a role of, you know, recruiting and hiring some younger engineers, for some leadership development programs and training development programs, they would get about 15 to 20% of engineers, they sorta go to management, either the company management or product program, project management, or you call it they just have enough skill, to be able to, how shall I say speak coherently. And intelligently, when they run into project management. They just want to know the basics, almost like a stepping stone. But they will never design they will never go into a problem solving. They just need to know enough. So they can finish MBA or additional, like a project management business classes and say, Hey, I will lead a team from that perspective. And you know what? They are needed those division eight, and it’s a heavy engineering background, at least it’s easier to explain him the phases the problems, drawbacks, and so on. So you encounter that as well. I mean, seriously, because coming out of procedure schools, having all the tools necessary, and they just never want to touch anything. It related to NPD as long as management.
Aaron Moncur 26:56
Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m gonna take a very short break here and share with the listeners that Team pipeline.us is where you can learn more about how we help medical device and other product engineering or manufacturing teams, develop turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines to characterize inspect, assemble, manufacture and perform verification testing on your devices. We’re speaking with Milan, Sarah avec today. Do you have any favorite vendors, Milan, I mean, folks, like like, or I shouldn’t say folks, companies like McMaster, or maybe like a particularly great machine shop, vendors that other engineers listening to this might might be able to use for their NPD programs.
Milan Cerovic 27:42
Yeah, McMaster like you mentioned that that’s like a staple. The sides working with the product labs very early on. So they’re pretty good resource. They have a couple of companies in Far East in China. One is called premium parts. One is called Rapid cut extremely well for machining and prototyping. BDT here in town, really great for 3d printing, prototyping a team of people. Aside from that, sheet metal, and if there are any new players for using Cardamine extensively, really good, cool team out of New Jersey. electrical components makeweight proceeded mill max. So I mean, that’s a great. Yeah, yeah, we had a lot. I mean, we were lucky. Back in the early days of Exxon, we had a very technologically promoted management, so they let us buy a CNC and the 3d printer very early on. What at that time, they weren’t really popular, they were actually used for dentures. So it was an X based, you produce more smoke than parts, but it was great. Now, I mean, every engineer can have a 3d printer for you know, I’m not saying small amount of money but you know, bearable amount of money. And then that that helps a lot. But there are new technologies out there. So like I said, If I can just say that there’s a couple of really good shows like MDMs you probably attend that we engineer is is Shacho and CES in Vegas are really great depending on which side of industry you belong. Or chart and see us have their what they call the vendor pavilion. And most of the times, they are only there for a couple of days, if I’m not mistaken if anything changed lately. And if you really want to be in this industry, a lot of those guys buy relation electronics, or hunt game fish, medical, they kind of like all use a fairly similar manufacturing methods Mayim machining, casting plastics, it’s really good to go maybe to those shows. You’ll see a lot of same suppliers on those shows. But you would never think they would attend the same show like Stratasys different people for prototyping. So So yeah, it’s like I said, We have a lot of these companies, if you can relate to share, we can share. Additionally, but yeah,
Aaron Moncur 30:04
that’s what that’s a great list. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, we just started a little while ago, working with this company, a CNS engraving. And they just they make labels, you know, and no one thinks about labels that often right, until you need them. But we build a lot of machines. And so we need to put labels on them safety and like call outs for this and that, and they’ve been wonderful custom labels, very affordable. Great service, quick turnaround time, nice, clean labels that you can easily wash off everything printed on the back. Well, the ones that we get anywhere printed on the back, the front is just this nice, smooth plastic finish. Anyway, that’s that’s one recently that we’ve discovered and been using quite a bit. They’ve been great.
Milan Cerovic 30:49
Yeah, we developed the cameras. I think one of our engineers said, there’s basically the project and these USB cables and labels, you know, something to connect something to know what’s going on inside. So you’re right,
Aaron Moncur 31:02
exactly. Yeah. Yep. Cables and labels. That’s good. Labels. If you had to start your career over again, is there anything that you would do differently?
Milan Cerovic 31:16
I don’t know, really, I think I was pretty fortunate to select the field I want to be in and actually, despite everything happened in my life, stumble upon the same opportunities and continue. The biggest thing is, there’s always that fine balance between hard work and education. So if I can change something, I would probably invest a bit more in education, especially visual communication and certain amount of, you know, additional facts as they are attached to our industry like procurement, program management and quality. You kind of learn that as you go. But if I can change it again, I would probably spend more time on that rather than just working to build those skills by just sheer amount of effort and labor.
Aaron Moncur 31:57
Yeah. Tell me a little more about the visual communication. What specifically, what would you do there?
Milan Cerovic 32:04
did a study? I mean, the sketching program, so the visual representation program has been the review SolidWorks here, and it has two modules, like a photo view, and what is the other way around? Or right on top? My head? Original communication? I think yeah, visualize? Yes, it’s almost, how shall I say? It’s also painful to find the training for that, huh? Yeah, you know, it’s very difficult. You can find training for surfacing for drawings for weldments and everything else all day long. But like, Hey, how can somebody get the engineers to know what’s enough? What’s appropriate level of knowledge of those programs to get your ideas presented in a proper manner, either to explosion animation, change of scenery, lighting, texture materials, because it’s very hard to sell. I’m not talking about real sales, but to sell your idea to somebody who cannot visualize it. So I think there’ll be the I mean, besides Photoshop, illustrators, and all that, that’s already existent. But even inside of our respective, everyday software is a use. They are very powerful engines, it is very hard to get to portray the value of that.
Aaron Moncur 33:14
Yeah. And for those who don’t know, photo of you and visualize their SolidWorks products that are photorealistic rendering programs at KeyShot is another similar one, just there’s excellent one. Yeah, modo and Maxwell render, and they’re a bunch of them out there. But KeyShot and visualize, I think of is kind of the same. There. They’re built around ease of use, you know, for folks who aren’t in who don’t have, you know, immense amounts of training, and creating your own material in a digital environment and things like that. They just make it really, really easy to to create a photorealistic render of something and you know, within a few minutes, you can get something that looks pretty good, pretty realistic, and then show it off. Oh, wow. Let’s talk about habits a little bit. What are some habits that you have developed over the years that have proven useful to you could be professional or personal. Take your pick?
Milan Cerovic 34:20
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think the two are the most, how should I say important habits that I still kind of sometimes forget force myself to kind of adhere to is punctuality and finishing what I start, hmm. Okay. It’s almost like procrastination is different. I mean, that’s kind of like almost like subset, but like, if you’d like to start to make things and never finish them, I’ve saw that is a really big detriment. You always play catch up. And then you always tell excuse, well, I couldn’t do this because I did this. So as much as I can, even in my personal life and in my career. Professional, I don’t try, I try not to start too many things at same time. Almost like, if I’m not gonna be focused, I can be really good at maybe one to two things, I can be averaging about three to four, everything above that I’m going to fail. And I know that I just have that like OCD personality, I just cannot run too many things. At the same time, I just don’t have enough, I share it, I let it to or so that’s one habit is like I want to really get things under control, can I send them off and then start a new thing. So So I think that’s one habit that I got a quotation by, by personal habits is like, I’m a morning person. So I like to get to get everything non essential out of the basically, out of my sight in the morning. So my rest of the day is more focused on because when your attention span goes down, and everything else, it’s much nicer to be focused on single thing like your care or design or test or build, rather, like have to send up every three minutes, go check the email, or somebody’s calling. So get those out. So they wake up early, get two emails out, you know, and then you’re gonna commit days to have to news become much more productive. Hopefully, using one of these helps. I like him a lot. So just focus on what you need to do. Do you?
Aaron Moncur 36:16
Do you often check email just once a day in the morning? Or will you go back a couple times throughout the day?
Milan Cerovic 36:24
I will go back but I will kind of like a tune down to frequency towards the end of the day. First, I can’t do much about it. Anyhow, I something urgent. It’s like I think there’s always tomorrow. I’ll do it in the morning, anyhow. Yeah, the biggest the biggest, I think charges are foreign suppliers, mostly Asian that they have really tried to go to go home. So some of those, you may have to leave some time around six or seven in the afternoon and talk to him for an hour. But
Aaron Moncur 36:49
yeah, okay. How can you think of a failure that you’ve had in your career? And what did you learn from that failure?
Milan Cerovic 37:01
Ah, majority. Yeah, there were there were there were definitely a few failures in design and execution. Okay, I think in any particular ones, it’s mostly, you mostly fix them in testing, but it’s basically almost like trying to attempt to do too much without doing enough research, or not including other team members for advisement. So majority of my failures, for lack of communication with other team members doing enough of a design reviews, design inspections, okay, yeah, it’s sometimes it’s a necessity, because there’s nobody around and then you just don’t know enough about it. So you kind of like, you know, say, Hey, this is what I can do right now. And that just does not accomplish what you set out to accomplish. But that’s probably the most like, taking, how shall I say risk unnecessarily? Or diving into something that’s not your expertise without doing enough research? Yeah.
Aaron Moncur 38:03
All right. Well, you’ve been doing this for just so long that I really want to kind of dive into your brain and extract some of your experiences and knowledge and insights. And one of the questions that I found interesting to do that is, is the following. What’s What’s your biggest fear? When you walk into work each morning? What what are you worried about every day?
Milan Cerovic 38:26
Oh, that’s, that’s an interesting question. Honestly, speaking, I love what I do. So I really don’t have a type of fear of items related to direct work, try to kind of like, you know, understand what you need to do. Plan for it, prepare for it, and always look from two perspectives, what’s the worst can happen and what’s the best way to happen and kind of towards gravitate towards what’s the best it can happen. That the biggest fear for me was like basically something happening outside of our control. You know, some of our team members leaving some of our project scope changing, something that we put enough effort into, it will not come to a proper fruition. But other than that, seriously, like I said, the work is one of the things I really enjoying the creation process. I really enjoy. So like I said, the biggest thing is something happening outside our control of our team. Yeah, that we have to respond to. That can really set everything else in motion.
Aaron Moncur 39:26
Totally. Yeah. You mentioned a team member leaving that’s definitely one of mine, one of our talented engineers leaving bets. i This is something I worry about all the time for me. That’s a big one.
Milan Cerovic 39:38
Aaron Moncur 39:39
What? What’s a tool that doesn’t exist? But if it did, would allow engineering teams to work better, faster, smarter, and this can be this can even be outside the realms of what is physically possible. I think someone to this question once answered a teleportation machine which I thought was just Brilliant. But any thoughts there a tool that doesn’t exist that that should to make engineering? Faster, better?
Milan Cerovic 40:08
Well, actually, they’re a couple of tools we actually discussed. One was the mold flow slash FDA tool. Like a lot of times you have multiple models for your plastic parts that show everything that lines, pockets, heat, hot, cold zones and everything else. But then when you do FBA, that gives you a perfect model. Heck, smash, no problems, why can we just take that model from moflo? Put it in FBA get the better results. So I think that’s probably in Iraq. She talked a couple of companies about that, in our if they’re going to be doing it or not. So that was like a really interesting, like engineering tool, of course, all these parametric modelers, different modelers, they’re getting better. The other tool you will be nice is a better project schedule tool. That’s what it’s for engineering. But I think the biggest frustration for engineers, is we set a schedule in place. And if a thing goes, how should I say not according to plan, it’s extremely hard to change the schedule, and make everybody understand. So if you ask me, I would like to have almost like a project schedule that can almost reflect our thoughts. Also can have a movie attached to a schedule, hey, this happened. And if you don’t fix it, this is going to happen. I think the most of the time engineers spent is explaining why schedule like this or like that, or not on time, or too much takes and everything else, you know, dependencies. If somebody can solve the engineering scheduling better to make it easier for engineers, they’re very visual, and how shall I say hands on individual individuals? I think they’ll be helpful. You know, just from my perspective,
Aaron Moncur 41:54
yeah, that’s really interesting. Maybe you need to get some of your old body cams and upload that directly to the Gantt chart. Yeah.
Milan Cerovic 42:01
Imagine if you could have like a, almost like a AI care that you can attach to schedule, say, hey, here we are, right now, here’s where we’re going. But this is a problem. So everybody can visualize what you see every day. out of it makes any sense. But I think a lot of times, just having to explain all of that in digestible terms and be ask a lot of questions that you can’t answer frustrates engineers, myself included, saying no, we will put the best schedule forward, we won’t fluff it. Make it like super long, taking care of the account is always good. So trust us, this is probably the best snapshot we have right now. If anything changes, we’ll adjust it once you start adjusting people just lose a track is like million lines. And everything else would be nice, almost like to make it as something as three dimensional, like a movie or a model so people can see hey, Carrie right now. I mean, your time Hey, Steph tooling is being made, they have no idea what you’re talking about, or, Hey, circuit board needs to be revised. For them circuit board needs to be your eyes. It’s like me listening for foreign language. So what I’m saying is like, it’d be nice to have something that’s more immersive. So every month, but like, yeah, somebody’s thinking just because that’s most remorseful. How should I say yeah. non productive time is spent is adjusting some of those.
Aaron Moncur 43:22
Well, maybe that can be your next company. Maybe yes, maybe. We’re talking about? Well, you mentioned FTA, mold flow analysis. And then we were also talking about vendors. Just a few minutes ago, I thought of another vendor that I just found recently called simscale. Super interesting. They, they do you know, F F EA, CFD, nonlinear analysis, like all the different simulation systems, and it’s cloud based, and you just I think there’s SolidWorks, and probably other CAD package add ins, so that it’s, you know, pretty seamless transfer of data into the cloud and back to your computer. But as opposed to having to pay, you know, I don’t know, ANSYS is probably like 13 grand a year or something like that, at this point, that is really expensive, right? SolidWorks simulation, I think is around they’re eight or 10 grand to buy it and then many 1000s to maintain anyway. You just pay like, like a monthly fee, or maybe there’s even a pay as you use it, like pay for the data or the time it takes or something like that, but it’s just seemed like a really cool way to do a lot of different simulations without having to pay 1015 grand just to get into it, right? Because maybe you only need to use it, you know, once a month or maybe not even that much. And so it seemed like a pretty cool vendor that I was looking into simscale
Milan Cerovic 44:51
that is excellent. Yeah, I’m going to try to use them because we talked about so many times exactly in the in the basically, the aftermath or initial conversations. We were lucky to Find out a small company here is Oracle Ara. It’s a husband and wife team. And they’re both like professors of math and physics. So they have a bunch of these software’s that they offer the services. But we also always had a seed of one of those modelers or analysis authors in house. And you’re right, they are utilized about maybe 10% of the time when it’s needed. So we always push these companies, why did you make it as a SaaS Software as a Service, and they will never budge? So I’m glad that somebody else is doing it. And rightfully so.
Aaron Moncur 45:30
Yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s the great idea that we needed this for a long time. So all right, maybe just one more question. And then we’ll, we’ll wrap things up here. Specifically, within the context of your role in design and engineering, what’s one thing that frustrates you? And one thing that brings you joy?
Milan Cerovic 45:55
I think about this one, one thing is that brings you joy is just the process of creation, seeing something materialize. Holding the product in your hand. Any reform, as you expected, or even better, it’s probably the biggest short of all, the frustration for me usually comes in probably lack of response from some outside factors. Like expecting good prototypes, they come in, they’re not really good. A timeframe Hey, we got to ship these tomorrow. And there’s like five days later, you get the shipment and everything else in the development portion of the of the, of the project development. The other frustration is when you develop a product that nobody wants to buy, we had some of those, just because you missed targeting initial, Aki talked about the requirements and everything else, one of the first camera systems we worked on was too big, because people insisted to have a large screen art. And the Dream Team will say we don’t need it. It’s too big. It’s basically very, very, and then, yes, we launched and nobody wanted it. So it was very frustrating. You know, if you don’t know something, and you will learn when you fail, it’s okay. We had those. I mean, we had different failures, even this prop, you know, project I’m talking about, you’ll learn a lot how to do things. But when you have a notion that something is not okay, and you even provide the data, not just your own inclination or opinion, and then nobody else listens, and it happens. The first thing is, you can say I told you, so doesn’t help anything. But frustration remains like why why we just didn’t do it a little bit differently, and have a better success. Out of that undertaking that process.
Aaron Moncur 47:41
Yeah, that’s great. Well, Milan, thank you so much for for joining me today. I really appreciate you taking time out of your schedule and sharing some insight from all your years of experience. How can people get in touch with you?
Milan Cerovic 47:55
Well, first, thank you for inviting me, this is really a pleasure. And then the best thing is probably to LinkedIn. Okay. become the de facto standard for communication between professionals. So why not? Yeah,
Aaron Moncur 48:06
Yeah. All right. Well, we’ll put a link to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes so people can find that easily. All right. Well, Milan, thank you again, so much. I sure appreciate your time today.
Milan Cerovic 48:17
Thank you very much, and we’ll talk soon.
Aaron Moncur 48:22
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design, and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at Team pipeline.us. Thanks for listening
We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Being an Engineer Podcast.
Help us rank as the #1 engineering podcast on Apple and Spotify by leaving a review for us.
You can find us under the category: mechanical engineering podcast on Apple Podcasts.
Being an Engineer podcast is a go-to resource and podcast for engineering students on Spotify, too.
Aaron Moncur and Rafael Testai love hearing from their listeners, so feel free to email us, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe on Apple Podcast and Spotify!
About Being An Engineer
The Being An Engineer podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people resources, and opportunities. We feature successful mechanical engineers. Interview engineers who are passionate about their work and who made a great impact on the engineering community.
The Being An Engineer podcast is brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical & other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipment such as cycle test machines, custom test fixtures, automation equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations and more. You can find us on the web at www.teampipeline.us
You’ve finally read this far! Therefore, it’s time to turn your headphones up and listen now to this episode to learn all these. Also, don’t forget to tell your friends who might like this too!