OnScale was created by engineers, for engineers. We know what your dream product, dream workflows, and dream results are - because we’ve been on the other side. We’re here to make those dreams a reality and are using our collective experience to develop the best solution out there. Get to know us, ask us questions, or come grab a beer at our happy hour! We’ll be highlighting different engineers on our team these next few months using the #ImAnEngineerAnd hashtag. We’re well aware of what the “engineer” stereotype is - we want to join in with the jokes, but also show the world that there’s much more to being an engineer!
I recently sat down with our VP of Strategy, Ryan Diestelhorst, for a video-conference. He, in his Atlanta brick-and mortar office - and I, at our local WeWork in Southern California. We’ve learned to be flexible with geography, time zones, and video conferencing software; that’s our workflow here at OnScale as a rapidly growing and global company. Ryan has a very humble and calm demeanor, and you can tell that he doesn’t enjoy the limelight.
I’d like to kick this off by asking you a personal question, and please be honest. What weird food combinations do you enjoy?
“I don’t know if it’s so weird, but I like breakfast for everything. So when I get to choose what we have for dinner at home, I always choose breakfast. That’s also about the only thing I know how to make.”
Can you fill in the blank? #ImAnEngineerAnd ______.
“#ImAnEngineerAnd a father
The most important thing that I am is a father. It’s not exactly the most exciting answer, but it is what pretty much dominates 90% of my life outside of work.”
If you had to pick, what’s your favorite engineer joke or meme?
“I love this meme because it’s extremely true for me. I still don’t know what those buttons do and I use them all the time.”
Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial, but I can’t think of any better way to get to know you than by asking you to write an Instagram bio using just emojis.
Ok, you’re going to have to walk me through this.
“So this one I actually had to prepare, there’s no way I could have done this on the spot. I've been a gamer since I was a kid and I've been going to Florida State football games since before I could talk. In 2002 I went up to Georgia Tech, which is what the bee is (the yellow jackets). I met my wife, and we connected over a shared love for music, particularly live music hence the dancing emojis. We got married and we flew out to California, hence the bridge (I couldn't find a different one for California. They don't have a bear emoji. They have a teddy bear face, but they don't have like an actual bear!). Then we had my daughter Evie and soon after, I joined OnScale. (I also couldn't find a good OnScale emoji. I think we should probably make one). Then we moved back to Georgia, so the peach represents Georgia.”
Wow, your whole life in just 15 emojis! So tell me more about joining OnScale, what brought you here and why did you come?
“I came to OnScale because of Ian. He got me really excited about the vision and potential with OnScale. I was really excited about the vision because it solves a key pain that we had at NextInput (our previous company). Ian says this a lot, but I don’t know if it resonates - it would’ve saved us hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, of design effort to have had access to a tool like OnScale when we were developing our product just six years ago. So it’s really exciting, the idea that we’re going to be able to create a platform for simulation across dozens of industries is pretty cool.”
That is really cool. So what exactly do you do at OnScale?
“I’m the VP of Strategy, which is a fancy way of saying that I try to make sure that all of our bases are covered and we don’t have too many blind spots. I also write patents, white papers, analyze our competition, and help Ian with fundraising. I’m here to contribute in any way that I can.”
What’s your favorite part of your job and why?
“I think one of the coolest things I’ve done so far is writing the fingerprint sensor white paper and the RF filter white paper we did last year. I really enjoy writing and publishing. It was really exciting to write about what OnScale can do in these markets, particularly the fingerprint sensor, which is something that I watched develop over the last four or five years while I was at NextInput. I was often in the same room working on the force sensor integration for a mobile phone in China right next to the applications engineer who was working on the integration of the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that they were developing at the time. So it was pretty cool to watch that develop and now be on the other side, developing software that will make it so much easier for them to do that job. Cause those engineers always look tired, that fingerprint technology is not an easy thing to integrate.”
Engineers do always look tired (just kidding). What do you think is the coolest or best thing about OnScale?
“Hands down, the people. I think you’ll get that answer from a lot of people you ask here at OnScale. I think we’ve done really well hiring extremely great people. It’s a very open and collaborative environment, a lot companies suffer from very siloed environments where certain people don’t want other people knowing what’s going on in one part of the business, and everyone feels cornered. That kind of atmosphere does not enable innovation, and is kind of an old school way of thinking. I think OnScale is doing very well in that regard, there’s a lot of humility at OnScale which I appreciate.”
At what point in your life were you like, “This is it. I’m meant to be an engineer!”
“I’ve always been really interested in building things. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather who was a master carpenter building all sorts of things. He would build me anything I needed, bookcases and shelves and anything imaginable. Then in college, I was fascinated with physics. I loved learning about Newtonian physics and seeing how many problems you can solve with just a simple set of fundamental theories. I just thought it was so cool how easy it was to describe what happened in the real world with mathematical rules.”
Tell me about one of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on in the past.
“When I was interning at JPL in California as a graduate student at Georgia Tech (I had just started my PhD) we were designing a new type of electronic system for the Rover projects. It was essentially electronics that didn’t have to be contained inside of a lead box in order to operate in space. So they could be placed anywhere on the rover without shielding, which reduces the weight of the shielding and all the cabling that has to go around the rover, which makes the payload much smaller and lighter. Back then, we were actually using software packages that are integrating with OnScale’s multiphysics simulation capabilities today.
I’m keenly aware of the value of integrating the electrical and mechanical workflow. Back then, all of my simulations were electrical, so if I had been able to take a circuit design that worked great from an electrical standpoint and then build a model showing you how it will work in the real world (with temperature, strain, stress and materials etc.), it would have been extremely valuable. It circumvents a lot of the pain you go through when you’re prototyping, getting a device into production, and learning about all the problems with it because of the mechanical effects that you didn’t know about because your simulator only did electrical.”
When’s the last time you pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone?
“When I said yes to doing a Q&A for a blog post.”
Well, this is our last question and you’ve been awesome! Let’s end it with this - what’s the best piece of life advice that you’ve ever received?
“So there’s two pieces of advice that I try to live by. The first was from my grandmother, which is to be humble and respectful in dealing with people. That can get you a long way in life, just by attempting to at least see someone else’s point of view. Your point of view is not the only one that matters.
The second one I learned from my dad, which you can sum up as basically ‘don’t sweat the small stuff.’ But it goes a bit deeper than that, it’s about being very deliberate in how you exert your energy. Especially your negative energy, because negative energy only has value when it’s driving you to change something. Otherwise it’s completely worthless. So it’s about choosing where you channel that negative energy, and using it to drive yourself to change whatever it is that’s causing it.”