In this interview, we spoke to Ted McHenry, one of the initial team members of the Gray Optics team and one of the anchor points of the growing group. As the Mechanical Engineering Manager and Process Leader, he brings 16+ years of experience to our team. With his diverse knowledge in mechanical design for rapid prototyping development and internal process development keeps our standards ultra-high and forward-looking.
“The opportunity to make the world a better place lies solely in your desire to do so.”
Describe your current role – do you manage others or mentor other engineers?
In my current role as Mechanical Engineering Manager and Process Lead, I lead a team of 3 outstanding individuals with very unique backgrounds. I do my best to offer guidance to those who need it, but what my team may not realize is that they provide me just as much, if not more, in return. I am also a technical contributor to a number of projects that we have running at any given time, designing products to meet our customer’s product requirements. The third facet of my role is to make sure that Gray Optics is doing the best we can to be consistent across project teams through the creation and updating of various processes and internal guidelines to make sure that we are efficiently and effectively meeting our milestones and goals.
What gets you up in the morning?
My greatest desire and motivator is to leave things better than they were when I arrived. If I can change even just one thing for the better every day, then I feel I have made at least a small difference to someone out there. This filters up to the work that Gray Optics is doing to improve and save lives by constantly pushing the boundaries of technology with our partners.
How do industrial optic prototyping and engineering differ from medical device engineering? What are the challenges you see?
The major difference between industrial and medical device development is the level of testing (validation and verification) that is required to meet the necessary requirements put forth by the FDA. This pushes out the time to market for medical device projects, so it takes a bit longer to see the final product on the market making a difference. Regardless of the type of project, we always strive to provide the highest quality solution to our customers’ challenges that fit within the boundaries of cost, schedule, and scope.
How does being an engineer influence how your kids move through the world? What do you hope to change for them with your work?
I’ve always had a desire to understand how and why things work, which is how I found myself at the University of Maine in Orono as an undergrad pursuing a mechanical engineering degree. In guiding and learning from my children, one of the most important things that I try to instill in them is that everything we do has an effect on everything around us. It’s easy to explain this concept using tangible things, like fixing something broken together. Sure, we could throw it away and replace it…but now we’ve added something to a landfill and missed out on an opportunity to add life to something and learn something new together! As they are getting older and wiser, the lesson expands and becomes more personally meaningful. One small gesture: stopping to see if the car with hazards flashing on the side of the road needs help can completely change the outcome of that person’s day.
I genuinely hope that the work we do here at Gray Optics with our partners improves the lives of everyone out there, better diagnostics, improved test results, and quicker recovery times from surgical procedures should that be necessary. I hope my children see that no matter where you’re from or what school you went to, the opportunity to make the world a better place lies solely in your desire to do so.