New Graduate — Electrical Engineer in the Silicon Valley

UCSC Electrical Engineering New Graduate Juan Ayala
Juan Ayala, Electrical Engineer at OmniVis Inc.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Juan Ayala and I am an electrical engineer at OmniVis Inc. When I was young, I was assigned the role of technical support in my home. I was always curious in how technology worked so I always volunteered to do anything related to a new device introduced to our home. I also enjoyed seeing my sibling’s faces light up when I was able to fix a device they used on the daily. From there, I knew I wanted to do something related to technology but I did not know what. It was not until I joined my high school robotics team where my electronics journey kicked off. Now as an electrical engineer, I can do more than help my family: I can design technology that can improve the health of communities around the world at OmniVis, Inc.

How did studying electrical engineering prepare you for a career in the biotech industry?

Biotechnology requires many different skills where electrical engineering alone cannot design a device. Studying electrical engineering did prepare me to understand how to power the technology and design circuits to detect events. However, the most important thing studying electrical engineering has prepared me for is collaborating with a team of different specialties. Although not as diverse as the biotech industry, I have worked with specialized electrical engineers to create a product during my studies. These collaborations gave me the skills to gather and integrate the most important information while developing a hybrid product.

How did you first hear about OmniVis and why did you want to join the team?

I recently graduated and was ready to put my hands to work. As I was searching for the best place to apply my skills, I stumbled upon OmniVis’s website. What first caught my attention was how OmniVis built a device that can be attached to a mobile device. This showed me that OmniVis’s was true to their mission: to make an affordable and quality device that can help the health of communities. I wanted to be a part of this mission.

What does your day-to-day look like? What are your key responsibilities for OmniVis?

One of my responsibilities is testing the hardware and checking if it works according to our expectations. If it does not, I diagnose the issue and try to fix the problem and improve the device. Another responsibility is reaching out to manufacturers and determining if they can create quality components for our device.

What has been your favorite project you have been working on and why?

My favorite project has been developing our user interface, like the device screen. There are many varieties of screens and when one is chosen, it will not work out of the box. I enjoy working on the software and hardware required to make something simple as a screen to work with our device.

Is there anything unexpected you’ve learned while working in the Biotech industry?

I did not expect the intensity of cross-functional collaboration among different disciplines. I joined the company as an electrical engineer but there is so much I have learned through collaborating with my team. My knowledge has expanded farther than just electronics and it is ever more expanding.

What would you recommend for anyone studying EE?

Going to your courses and doing homework will not be enough. Try to do your own projects outside of class. You will have the room to fail without worrying about your grades and learn much more from these experiences. You can make projects related to your interests. You can make synthesizers or your own keyboard if you enjoy music. You can create fantastic light shows with your own LED drivers. The possibilities are endless.

Is there anything else you would like the readers to know?

My favorite pastime is playing board games with friends. I would rather swim than run. And I enjoy singing even if I am bad at it.

Fun Fact About Yourself!

I can never have enough LEDs on anything.