The first time Gabby Rusch reached out about an internship at Biocut Systems, the position didn’t exist.
Fifteen months later, she became the first woman to join the company’s engineering team full-time.
“Regenerative medicine I had known from some of my classes, is a really up and coming field… It was a little bit of a shot in the dark because I wasn’t sure with the size of Biocut, if they could even take on an intern,” said Rusch.
At the time, the solution-based bioscience company founded in 2016 had only a couple of employees. Today, the company, while still tight-knit, has expanded to over a dozen.
“Eventually they made an internship just for me. I was very blessed to have them and they are really great mentors.”
One of thousands around the country celebrating with virtual commencements and postponed celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rusch graduated from Georgia Tech in early May with a degree in biomedical engineering. Besides Biocut President Don Melnikoff, she is the only one on the engineering team with a biomedical specific background.
“I think a lot of people assume that biomedical engineers are just mechanical engineers who’ve taken a couple more biology classes,” Rusch said. “But really biomedical engineering, the foundation of it, lies in aiding the human body and aiding humanity in general. So, we come from combatting problems from a totally different perspective.”
The matchup of engineering veterans and newcomers blends backgrounds inclusive of robotics and automation. However, the size of the team has seen a metamorphosis over the past couple years.
When Jared Koch joined the Biocut team in 2017 he essentially became the company’s lead engineer.
“I was at that time just kind of a one-person engineering department, working on incorporating the press technology, building up the die side of the business and working with the team in doing that,” said Koch, now vice president of innovation.
“From then on out, I’ve been the leader of the engineering team. I’ve helped grow and diversify the team into a team that continues to grow and develop within the regenerative medicine market space.”
The current team of six features a lineup of engineers that range in experience that spans from as fresh as a year to over two decades and also incorporates the expertise of consultant engineers. And while many attribute those in the engineering field as less sociable or keen to face-to-face interaction, it’s the opposite for those at Biocut. For Logan Eggert, senior product development engineer, it’s a “refreshing” change of pace.
“I think we’re pretty unique in that being an engineer I get to be very customer facing which is extremely helpful in terms of designing solutions for our customers because you hear from them directly, you get their exact reactions from the designs,” said Eggert.
“You hear originally what their pain points are to begin with. I think the amount of social aspect that goes into it, is a massive advantage, from a design standpoint, just being able to actually get that one on one context with customers.”
Keeping consistent with the company’s “flat” structure, Biocut’s engineers are all their own project managers, overseeing their projects from the concept’s birth through its completion.
Rusch’s current project, a demineralization and decellularization device created to assist in the washing of different bone and skin grafts, is actually a project she began during her internship last summer.
“The team really liked some of my solutions and helped me develop them…They let me take the lead on a lot of things and that’s pretty unheard of, especially for an internship,” said Rusch.
“It’s in the final stages of everything and we’re sending the device at the beginning of June. It’s a full circle experience in just a one-year timeframe, which is a really rare experience for a new engineer. Just seeing your initial ideas turn into reality is the reason I got into all of this.”
Each day, these engineers are talking to customers and gathering input to better transform customer ideas into innovations.
The newest addition to the team, Steve Puffpaff has a background in cradle to grave projects for this specific reason.
“I think the biggest misconception is how long and how much effort it takes to put out a good product. The reality is the first cut of (an idea) what they get, might not be what they wanted or it might not perform the way they expected, but it’s a learning process. You can’t just dream something up and the first time it’d be perfect,” said Puffpaff.
Achieving perfection in any industry can be tedious and seemingly impossible. Yet the motivation behind Puffpaff’s drive like many others on his team is simple: “It’s not really quantifiable, but being useful is at the crux of it.”
“Daily we’re working on different devices, machinery, and tools that are in fact helping people recover from traumatic surgeries that they’ve undergone,” said Eggert. “And ideally we’re doing this in not only a way that will help people recover, but also hopefully helping them economically as well.”
Quite literally at Biocut Systems, these engineers demonstrate the phrase “if you can’t find a way, make one,” transforming ideas into actualized innovations.