From Intern to Employee: How Rosa Ruiz Carved Her Career Path
Rosa Ruiz started at Formlabs two and a half years ago as a mechanical engineer on the Fuse team after spending the summer as a mechanical engineering intern.
In her role, Rosa is in charge of specific subsystems on the Formlabs printers. She prototypes new ideas, tests their functionality and validates these on new versions of the printers that are built in-house. Another part of her role involves redesigning parts for mass manufacturing and assembly, as well as working directly with suppliers and contract manufacturers through production.
Read on to learn more about skills Rosa has gained, lessons she’s learned at Formlabs, and her best day at work.
How did you find out about Formlabs?
I had heard about Formlabs a few times in college but hadn’t specifically planned on applying. Caitlin Reyda (who now leads our Form 3L team) was my dorm’s residential assistant during my freshman year, so when I saw her familiar face at a career fair, I went over to talk to her, and she convinced me to apply for an internship!
What was your career path before starting at Formlabs?
I was planning to go to graduate school, though that was mostly because I didn’t feel like I had enough experience for a “real job”. I applied and was accepted to a summer internship at Formlabs before school, then was offered a full-time position at the end of the summer! Since my goal was to eventually work at a consumer products company, I decided to skip grad school and take the job. Also, I had gotten used to free 3D printing and snacks.
Are there any skills you’ve improved upon or learned since starting at Formlabs?
Throughout college, I learned basic mechanical principles but at Formlabs I have learned SO MUCH more. There are concrete skills I’ve acquired, such as “how to design sheet metal parts that aren’t impossible to manufacture” and “how to structure your CAD so your teammates don’t get mad at you,” but also more abstract things like new ways of thinking. It’s important to master the hard skills, but my role has required me to think critically: for example, trying to predict if or how things might fail, designing tests that get right to the functionality of a material, part, or subsystem, and learning how to let go of a solution you’re invested in and try something completely new.
What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I started rock climbing since so many Formlings were into it, and it’s definitely been one of the most challenging and fulfilling things I’ve gotten into. I also like baking desserts for people, writing things that rhyme, and jogging gently along the Charles River.
Has your position here complemented your career goals in any way?
It has complemented my career goals in every way I could hope for! I feel so lucky that my first job out of college checks off everything on my list. Not only am I working in the field I studied, but I’m also working on interesting problems that have a direct impact on our customers. I’m also able to complete these projects alongside a brilliant and kind team that is happy to answer any questions I have. I see myself staying in engineering for a long time, so I like how the pace of our product development cycle has allowed me to experience everything from R&D to mass manufacturing.
What are some valuable lessons you’ve learned at Formlabs?
The biggest lessons I’ve learned so far are to not be afraid to share my ideas and to ask for help when I need it. When I started full-time I felt like I had to figure everything out myself, and was worried that my opinions didn’t have much value — after all, I was new and inexperienced. However, with the encouragement of my mentor, time, and positive feedback from my teammates, I have made an effort to improve upon both of these skills. I am now more aggressive in meetings and will share my thoughts or bounce ideas off people to figure out the challenges I may be facing. I’m still learning to be more proactive and bold, but I have come a long way from when I was an intern.
What was your best day at work?
I had been working on a challenging subsystem — it started off as one of the biggest unknowns in the machine and after lots of effort from a dedicated team, it ended up a reliable and (mostly) worry-free part in under a year! For the one-year anniversary of the day we started, I decided to host a birthday party for the subsystem complete with a cake. I thought that was pretty good already, but then our team lead, Ian, made us sing “happy birthday” to the subsystem, which was a little wacky but very ‘Formlabby.’
How would you describe Formlings in three words?
Hardworking, curious, and helpful.
What’s your favorite 3D print?
I modeled this bust of a screaming man in Sculptris (it’s free!) and painted it at Paintlabs, which is a bimonthly event the company holds after work (that I help organize) where we teach you to paint your prints!
We’re always looking for talented individuals, like Rosa, to join Formlabs. Check out our current opportunities on our careers page to learn how you can help us build the future.