A Day in the Life of ...
Briana Jones

Briana Jones

Process Engineer
Boulder, CO United States

What is the first thing you do when you get started with work for the day?  

I start off my day by checking my email for any new tasks that might have come up. Then I review where I left off from the previous day and balance those tasks with the new tasks to decide which are highest priority. 

What are your main areas of focus in your work as a Process Engineer? 

As a Process Engineer, I focus on the processes for manufacturing optical assemblies. These optical assemblies generally consist of at least one optic in some sort of housing. I have to understand the customer requirements for the assembly and then flow that down to work instructions so they can be built by our skilled technicians. For existing products, I update our process and work instructions when we get changes from our customers or when we need to improve a process. New products that we have not built in our manufacturing facility before, require a lot more effort. These require me to first review drawings and requirements and then develop a plan to build them as per the required specifications. I then typically work directly with the technicians to build the first few assemblies.

How do you organize/structure your work day with tasks/projects?   

I keep a running list of all the tasks I need to work on. It helps me stay organized and make sure that I’m not forgetting anything time sensitive. Since I am usually working on multiple projects at the same time, I try to give each project at least a few hours of attention each week to make sure everything is moving forward.

As a Process Engineer, do you collaborate with a team or mainly work autonomously? Which do you prefer?  

I am always collaborating with other colleagues, and it’s rare for me to work alone on a project. I really enjoy working with  people because I always learn something new like a new way to do something or a different way of thinking about a problem. I like hearing other perspectives and ideas, which I think makes me a better Engineer. 

Which part of your work do you enjoy the most, and why? 

My favorite part of my job is solving problems. We build some advanced optical assemblies here at Excelitas, which require a lot of troubleshooting when they aren’t working as expected. I get to apply all of my skills when a problem arises, starting with designing experiments and collecting data that might lead to the source of the issue. It’s so satisfying when I’m faced with a problem and I finally find the solution and can fix it.  

If you had more hours in the day to focus on new skills related to your job or projects for your work, what would you focus on?  

Researching new and better ways to build things. New tools are constantly coming on the market that could help  improve products, and I want to devote more time to researching those tools. 

What is your special skill/ magic power/ hobby you’re proud of?  

I taught my two cats to do tricks. Both of them can sit, speak, shake, and jump through a hoop on command. They are food-motivated kitties, so they only do their tricks if I’m holding a bowl of food, but I’m really proud of myself for having the patience to teach two stubborn cats to do tricks. For a hobby, I’m an indoor plant enthusiast, and carnivorous plants are my favorite. I currently have about 25 carnivorous plants in my house. Fruit flies don’t stand a chance!