Jake Misra on leading the Quality Team and opportunities he’s found at Formlabs
Jake Misra started in his first role at Formlabs in January of 2017 as a Product Quality Engineer, which involved identifying and solving manufacturing issues and design flaws for the Form 2, Form Wash, and Form Cure. In his words, “the Form 2 has been my bread and butter for a long time!”
He now leads Formlabs’ Quality Team, which is responsible for ensuring the printers are working well, after they’ve been introduced and shipped to customers. This involves two types of work; first, what Jake considers “the fun part,” which is fixing any hardware or process bugs, and second, making the printers more cost-effective to manufacture over time.
He says his main responsibility involves making sure his teammates have the tools and resources needed to complete their work. “Leading a team is not about being the best at everything. I hire much better engineers than myself; I’m mostly here to unblock their paths.”
Read on to learn more about the opportunities he’s found in his role at Formlabs, his best day at work, and take a look at Jake’s own designs for 3D-printed cosplay props!
How did you find Formlabs?
I previously worked in 3D printing when I lived in Chicago so I was already somewhat familiar with Formlabs. I found a post on Angel List and decided to make the plunge to a younger company. Best decision I ever made.
What are some skills you’ve gained from being a part of the Formlabs engineering team?
The biggest ones for me are my project management skills. Balancing a dozen projects and competing priorities is something I have to do every day. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good but there’s always room for improvement.
In what ways have your roles complemented your career goals?
My goals are to work on high impact and interesting products. Formlabs hits this in spades. There are very few industries where you get to work on Mechanical, Electrical, Software, Chemical, Optical, and Controls Engineering, especially outside of aerospace.
My roles have allowed me to work across multiple engineering disciplines and across teams. I value technical ingenuity and cross functional teamwork, and I get to push both of those forward on a daily basis.
Formlabs has also allowed me to step up in my responsibilities several times in the last few years. The freedom to grow your skills and the scope of your role is something I deeply value here.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your time at Formlabs?
An important skill that almost no one talks about is when to say “no.” It’s incredibly easy to say yes to everything and take on entirely too much work or too many projects.
Knowing your own capabilities and identifying when you’re overloaded are skills that take years to develop. Always keep in mind that no one will get mad at you if you say “I don’t have the bandwidth right now but maybe I can shift some priorities around or work on it next week.”
What is something that you’ve been involved in here that you didn’t anticipate?
This is sort of a tough question to answer because my job is almost entirely “roll with the punches.” One of the things I love about my role is that I might be working on different projects every week.
I didn’t really anticipate working with so many different people. Quality lives between all of the engineering disciplines, so I get to collaborate with almost everyone within the organization.
What’s one of the most exciting opportunities you’ve found in your work at Formlabs?
Again, the ability to work on engineering projects from so many disciplines is very exciting for me.
The most exciting projects are those aimed at improving success rates across the fleet. The design space is huge, and the impact is very widespread. Even improving the success rate for a resin by 1% can mean thousands of hours gained for our users.
What has been your best day at work?
A few months ago I gave a presentation to our global partner network about Quality at Formlabs. I don’t often get to speak publicly about the team’s accomplishments, and our partner network is a huge part of what makes Formlabs great. Speaking to such an attentive and invested crowd stands out as a pretty great day for me.
What advice would you give to someone interested in engineering or the 3D printing world?
I have two pieces of advice here. If you want to get “career in engineering,” that in no way dictates that you must get an engineering degree or spend half a decade in higher education. There are many high-impact technical jobs that do not require a degree in the field. Many of these jobs look for people that are good at building things, which — surprisingly enough — is not part of the core curriculum in engineering school. Seek out certificates from your local community college if an engineering degree isn’t feasible for you.
If you want to get involved in 3D printing, grab a free CAD program and watch some YouTube tutorials. You’ll be designing your own parts in a couple of weeks! Next, check out if your local makerspace/library/school has a printer you can use to test your designs out.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you want to work in 3D printing, you don’t have to have 3D printing experience. We hire great engineers, not everyone that works here had tinkered with 3D printing before working at Formlabs.
What is your favorite 3D print?
I have a few! My own designs will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m an avid cosplayer and I’ve printed many props on a mix of FDM (before I worked at Formlabs) and SLA printers. Here’s a shameless plug for my Youtube channel, where I teach people how to make stuff: www.youtube.com/makestuff
Ancient Arrow, from Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
Name of part: Ancient Arrow
Resin: Black, Grey, Clear
Borealis 03 Prop from Destiny 2 Name of part: Borealis 03
Resin: Grey, Clear, Black, White
Blaster from Space Dandy
Name of part: Space Dandy Blaster()
Resin: Mostly Grey
Jake is one of the many Formlings who makes our team great. If you’re interested in helping us build the future, head over to our Careers Page to learn about Engineering (and other!) opportunities at Formlabs.