Faye Titchenal | Principal Quality Engineer | Alameda, CA
Q. What is your role at Penumbra?
As a quality engineer at Penumbra, I’ve had the opportunity to work on multiple product lines within the business. I started out supporting the manufacturing and inspection lines of our implantable coil product families. More recently, I’ve transitioned to the mechanical thrombectomy side of the business. I now support the design and manufacture of various electro-mechanical aspiration tubing devices.
Q. Why did you become an engineer?
Growing up I was always curious and loved to take things apart to figure out how they worked. Engineering was a place where it was encouraged to be curious and to create solutions where there previously were none. I specifically entered medical devices because this is a field with new opportunities to pioneer that can make an immediate and positive impact on people’s lives.
Q. Describe the day-to-day responsibilities of a Penumbra quality engineer.
The quality engineering role at Penumbra is fast-paced and no two days look the same for me. For instance, last week I worked with a supplier in Asia then strategized about a sterilization validation for a new device. This week, on the other hand, I performed a root-cause investigation and led a cross-functional team in the development of a new piece of inspection equipment. There’s a lot going on and there are many challenges, but every day is rewarding, and I’ve been privileged to work with extremely dynamic teammates.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to work hands on with the products that we design and manufacture. It is extremely satisfying and fun to take a device apart to understand how it functions.
Q. What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
– It’s okay to not have all the answers. Nobody has all the answers.
– The best solutions usually don’t come from the person with the most experience, but instead are developed through a combination of team collaboration, shared experience, and creativity.
– It is oftentimes more important who you know than what you know. Developing and maintaining cross-functional relationships is integral to efficiently and effectively completing projects.
Q. Describe yourself at age 10. What career aspirations did you have at that age?
I grew up in Lyons, Colorado, a small mountain town just outside of Boulder. As a kid, I loved hiking and biking with my older brother around the mountains by our house. In the winter I’d spend most weekends skiing with my family at Winter Park or Copper Mountain. Aside from winter sports, my other interests at the age were animals and rocks. I was certain I’d grow up to be either a veterinarian or a geologist.
Q. Before working at Penumbra, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
When I was getting my undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, I worked as a research assistant studying the impact of space travel on human bone density. I spent my afternoons analyzing CT scans from the bones of mice that had spent a few months on the International Space Station.