Hardware Bee Interviews Nuvation Engineering CEO Michael Worry about the Electronic Design Industry

Mar 26, 2024

Hardware Bee recently interviewed Nuvation Engineering CEO Michael Worry about the electronic design industry. Take a look at the interview below.

Tell me a bit about your background? How did you first get started with Nuvation Engineering?

I founded Nuvation Engineering in 1997. I had recently graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Engineering program and after working for a few companies, I decided to start my own. I moved from Waterloo to Silicon Valley in California and started Nuvation as an engineering design services company.

Tell me about Nuvation Engineering.

Nuvation started as an electronic design services engineering company and we’ve maintained that since starting in 1997. We solve complex engineering challenges, that’s where we can provide the most value to our customers. Most of our team have been with the company for close to a decade, many even longer than that. We’ve completed well over a thousand projects and you’ll find our work in satellite systems, telecommunications, semiconductor fabrication, industrial automation, medical devices and scientific measurement instruments, and quite a bit more.

What problem did you see that needed to be fixed? What is your approach to solving that?

I wanted to do new product design, particularly for advanced applications. I wanted to do that in an entrepreneurial context, and not just for one product. Take that together, and you get design services. People come to us with challenges like needing to control an underwater robot remotely from a cable that’s a kilometer long, so communications latency is a big problem. Or aggregating 7 cameras to generate a 360-degree view into a usable output, and putting that camera system on a moving vehicle travelling over harsh terrain. Or making control boards for a new DNA separation device. Our secret to solving these challenges is two-fold. First, we have a multi-disciplinary team working together, bringing together their different perspectives to the challenge. Second, we have a methodology that takes us from a feasibility or architecture phase through a step-by-step process that gets us to a prototype, then on to production. We’ve refined these two ingredients for over twenty years and have them fine-tuned at this point.

How has the role/offering of Nuvation Engineering changed during recent years?

Over the years our design fields have evolved with the market needs. In recent years the focuses have been medical and life sciences, IoT devices, and industrial controls.

Did any of the market consolidation (or acquisition) affect your business and how?

For us it’s not had that much effect. While the supplier consolidation at the chip level is interesting, and changes who we’re working with, our focus is on the customers and creating the products they want to take to market.

Which market segment seems promising to you? And why?

There are a lot of very interesting technologies being developed in the life sciences field, and we’ve had a number of customers in that field already. Those projects tend to require advanced processing and data acquisition, so are a good match for our capability level. The other field is Energy Storage, where we provide both services and products under our Nuvation Energy brand (www.nuvationenergy.com).

What is a typical customer for Nuvation Engineering?

It’s always hard to capture what a “typical” customer is, but I can highlight things our customers are looking for from us – technology skill, problem solving, great communication, and a commitment to high quality results.

Customers are focused on time-to-market, first-time-right, price, etc. Do you see a change in customer behavior in recent years? Where is the focus today and why?

These factors have been present in our customer base since day one. It’s interesting you point to those specific factors – I’d have likely listed those same ones off as what’s important to our customers, and it’s always been that way. These are universal factors. We’ve always had a focus on first-time right in particular – our experience has been that’s one of the key pathways to some of these other factors like time-to-market and good value. In our approach we put a focus on up-front analysis and design, in-progress review, careful alignment on specifications, and other ways to get you to that first-time right result.

What are the 3 top things you wish your customers would do better (or differently)?

Customers will always have their own constraints and limitations, but when they ask us for advice we try and guide them to things like: Lean into the up-front work and planning – you’ll get to a better result faster in the long-run. Communicate a lot – same as I’d tell any employee, partner, or vendor. When you think you’re communicating too much, you’ve probably hit the right level. And communication doesn’t have to take a lot of time, it can be focused. Change happens, it’s ok – new information arises, and the design process will turn up limitations and choices to make. Work through the decisions step by step and we’ll get back on track together.

Are you currently hiring? What type of jobs?

We’re always looking for great people, that’s the backbone of any great company. Our open positions are on our websites.

What is your #1 advice for people who want to work for Nuvation Engineering?

The first thing is you need to be a great engineer, of course! Our engineering design team is one of the best in North America, in my opinion. We solve really tough gnarly challenges. The second thing is that we view engineering as a team sport, and that means bringing a team mentality to work every day. We assemble a project team based on the required skills, so you’re constantly on teams that look a bit different, doing work that looks a bit different. Which brings us to the last thing, which is being flexible and adaptable.

Where can one find more information?

Visit our website, there’s lots of information there. www.nuvation.com for our Engineering Design Services (EDS) business, and www.nuvationenergy.com for our Energy Storage business.

What is the best moment in your day?

The beginning of the day, for sure! It is full of unrealized potential and that’s exciting.

How do you keep yourself energized and engaged during the day?

I’m an avid runner, often 5-8 miles on workday runs and double that on weekends when I have more time. That sets the tone for the day, moving with velocity. During the day, I have the honour to work with the most amazing team, solve problems for great customers, and the types of challenges we tackle are thoroughly energizing and engaging!

What is your preferred lunch discussion topic?

I believe in living a life that creates stories worth telling! Among engineers, it can be fun to trade stories about complex technical conquests. It’s also enjoyable to brainstorm new ideas in a less formal setting. Sometimes it’s theoretical intellectual scenarios, other times it’s speculating new product designs or the coming future of ever accelerating technology trends such as energy renewables, autonomous vehicles and AI!

How do you spend your time outside working hours?

For me, I’m a passionate engineer. During the day, we build projects for our customers, and then after hours we continue playing for the love of the game! With friends, I’ve built many projects after hours such as electric art cars, robotic beer kegerator, and an electric race car! When I’m not doing engineering for work, I like doing engineering for fun! I have two wonderful daughters, and we love creating adventures, creations and memories together!