Zac joined the Scientific Bioprocessing, Inc. (SBI) team in 2020 as a Bioprocessing Automation Engineer. He graduated in 2018 from Penn State University with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Zac brings mechanical and software engineering experience and computer science know-how to his new role. As an SBI Bioprocessing Automation Engineer, he serves as the bridge between the company’s engineering and software functions.
We caught up with Zac recently for the latest installment of the SBI Team Spotlight Series. We discussed what inspired him to get into engineering, his role at SBI, and what it’s like to work for the company.
What inspired you to get into a career that blends engineering and the sciences?
It really came down to my skill set. I’ve always enjoyed math and physics. My oldest brother is a mechanical engineer and I have always looked up to him. I give him a lot of credit; he always made these topics sound so interesting.
Tell us about your journey leading up to joining SBI?
Jake Boy, who is a Senior Application Scientist at SBI, is my cousin. Things just really lined up. At my prior job at a software company, my hours were getting reduced because of COVID-19 and people were getting laid off so I started to look for another job.
So, it was a tough time at first, but I connected with Jake and he said that SBI was looking for someone with my skills and it worked out from there.
What are your core responsibilities in your current role?
I was brought in to help both the mechanical side of SBI, and the software side, led by Scott Anderson, our Systems Integration Engineer. I jump back and forth between software and mechanical.
I also help manage SBI’s 3D Printer, which creates some of our prototypes. Working with the 3D materials we’ve been testing has been really interesting so far. We’ve been testing different kinds of plastics for different projects; getting to test the waters with the 3D Printer has been fun.
I don’t think I’ve found my lane just yet. I’ve only been here a little while. This is an all-hands-on-deck environment and I do what needs to be done.
What impact will better bioprocessing automation have on the drug development process?
As an automation engineer, because we’re coming up with so many new ideas all the time and the field is so new, we just don’t know what we don’t know. As we test and learn new things, we need to move forward efficiently.
As an automation engineer, I have a great opportunity to positively impact the development process from prototype to market and make this process better.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of working at SBI?
Working across two functions, I don’t have to put all my eggs in one basket. Helping with the mechanical and software sides of the business is a nice balance and an amazing learning opportunity for me.
Everyone wears a lot of hats in a business this size. It’s been really rewarding to point my focus in several different directions. This opportunity has been the most rewarding aspect of my time at SBI so far.
How would you describe the workplace culture at SBI?
In the 3 months I’ve been here I think we’ve tripled in size. We’re growing like crazy. But even with this growth, we’re still so open. Everything is very transparent and because of this, we’re all very close. We all get along really well. We’re all family here.
I think one of our biggest strengths is that we’re very truthful with one another. If I come up with an idea that my boss didn’t think of, they’re not going to be mad about it—they’ll love it. I try to learn everything I can from them, too. We have a really good dynamic in that sense.
What are your favorite things about riding your Onewheel or skateboard?
Onewheels are definitely more fun than skateboarding and it’s kind of like snowboarding without the snow. Skateboarding is a bit more challenging, especially in the winter.
What’s one thing that your coworkers don’t know about you that would surprise them?
My co-workers outside of Pittsburgh might not know that I am a proud alum of the Triangle Fraternity at Penn State Behrend.