Amy Ishiguro is an NPI Engineer at AEye. Previously, she worked as a Manufacturing Design Engineer at Apple where she achieved a 40% cost savings for a part on the Macbook Pro enclosures. While at Apple, she drove process improvements to enhance yields and reliability while lowering cost, as well as planned and executed DOEs to optimize key process variables. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. While there, she worked as an undergraduate researcher at the MIT Photovoltaics Laboratory, designing and programming a low-energy, solar-powered device that uses Bluetooth Low Energy to wirelessly transmit sensor data. Amy is an avid dancer who practices ballet, ballroom, jazz, and contemporary dance.
We sat down with Amy to learn more about her responsibilities as an NPI Engineer, her time at MIT, and her experience in yo-yo design and manufacturing.
Q: What does an NPI Engineer do? What are you responsible for?
An NPI Engineer is responsible for bringing a product from the engineering sample phase to mass production. At the end of the day, my goal is to deliver a safe, reliable, and cost-efficient product at volume. My day-to-day work involves finding and selecting contract manufacturers (CMs), negotiating component pricing, updating documentation, and transferring technical details from R&D engineers to CMs or other parts of the organization.
It’s a very rewarding role because I get to be at the center of the company and draw on the expertise of the brilliant minds around me. Whether it’s how to design a lens or what steps are necessary to achieve automotive certification, I’m learning something new from a different person every day.
Q: Why AEye?
The people! What first tipped me off to the friendliness of my colleagues is that during my interview, almost everyone asked what I wanted to do. I felt that they really cared about whether there was a role at AEye that would be the right fit for me, not only about whether I would be an asset to the team. As an employee, I continue to feel valued and supported. People trust you to do your job well, but they are also open to help when you need it. I love that I can walk up to someone to ask a question – any question – and they will take the time to talk with me.
Q: What was the most interesting project you worked on during your time at MIT?
I really enjoyed building a robot for a class called 2.007: Design and Manufacturing I. The objective was to score points by accomplishing various tasks on a game field. At the end of the semester, students compete against one another in a tournament bracket to try and earn as many points as possible.
The playing field changes every year, and my year’s challenge was a ski slope. Within a 2-minute window, a robot could earn points by climbing up slopes of 30 or 60 degrees, retrieving medals and flags, and depositing the flags in a “chalet” at the bottom of the hill. Each student came up with his or her own strategy for obtaining points, and my strategy was to maximize use of the first 30 seconds of “autonomous period,” where points were doubled, by zooming up to the top of the slope immediately. After those 30 seconds, I planned to guide my robot toward a medal on a pedestal and extend an arm to collect it. For this project, I used a light sensor (for the “go” signal), and an ultrasonic distance sensor to detect the wall at the top of the slope.
Q: You’ve dabbled in yo-yo design and manufacturing. Tell us about that!
This was for another class at MIT. We learned about injection molding in lectures and got to apply our knowledge by producing 100 yo-yos of our own! My team of seven decided on an “outdoorsy” yo-yo theme with an injection molded mountain range on one half, and a laser cut map of New England on the other half. A friend and I were responsible for the mountain piece. She generated the 3D model of the mountains, and I created the toolpaths for the CNC lathe and mill. Together, we oversaw the machining for the mold and ran the injection molding production. It was a memorable project, and it was this class that piqued my interest in manufacturing.