While Averna is dedicated to helping global customers produce market-leading high-tech products, this could not be achieved without their talented team of employees. Averna understands that each group and department are linked, and every individual is required to make the company a success. In this new series, Averna will chat with one of these individuals and understand their point of view on their contribution.
Michal Kurkiewicz earned his master’s degree in Mechatronics in July 2021. Two days following the defense of his thesis, he was welcomed onboard at Averna’s Wroclaw office to begin his career as a Junior Vision Engineer. With his passion for learning, technology and electric vehicles, Michal had joined a Polish scientific association, called LEM Wroclaw. There, with other like-minded people, he has built two electric motorcycles and an electric drift-trike. Today, he supports world leaders in EV as part of the Averna team.
Q: Where were you before Averna and how did you get here?
A: I was working for a leading Polish company that specializes in repairing industrial electronic devices while I continued my studies at the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology. My job there was to help build stations to test repaired devices before sending them back to a client. I have been working in a hybrid model that combined studying and working full time. I am the kind of person that cannot sit still and do nothing.
Before that, I spent time in the packaging industry, where I was focusing on customers’ requirements. Here, I gained experience creating long-term relationships as a Sales and Service Engineer. It was very interesting because the packaging industry is present everywhere, regardless of the application. I was able to meet and talk to people from food & beverage as well as pharmaceuticals and the automotive industry. Moreover, I was able to learn production from the inside out, which helps me be a better Vision Engineer like forecasting scenarios related to operator work.
How did I get to Averna? I was looking for a job where I could make a difference and push limits. This includes both personal and technical limits. One Friday night I met up with a friend I used to work with, and he told me about Averna. I was so impressed with what Averna does and the types of opportunities that were simply waiting for someone like me. I asked him if there is any job openings and two months later I joined the team.
Q: What attracted you to optical engineering?
A: I remember I was very interested in Physics in High School. Then, during my studies, I was fascinated by lasers and THAT attracted me to the opto-mechatronic laboratory at university. That is where I wrote my bachelor’s thesis where I linked optics, lasers, and mechatronics. During my professional career at the packaging company, I had the opportunity to work with a vision system. It was a breakthrough moment in my life because I knew from the very first moment I saw this system, this is what I wanted to do. Can something be more interesting than a system that can easily inspect object details too small to be seen by a human eye within a split second?!?
Moreover, Optical Engineering and vision systems are one of the hottest tech sectors. They are essential in practically every industry in the world, from automotive to entertainment, medical to communication. Optomechanical devices might sound dry, but they’re at the heart of an increasing number of consumer and business products. It doesn’t hurt that demand for optical engineers is soaring. 😊
Q: What is your favorite aspect of your current role?
A: I really like that we, as Averna, are “testers of tomorrow”. That gives me so many of opportunities to develop and grow in different aspects. No two days are the same. I find myself assembling or running test setups that were actually designed by me. Thanks to participating in projects from design to installation at the customer site, I can learn from my own mistakes. I become a better engineer every day. Working at Averna also gives me the opportunity to work with people from around the world. I love travelling, meeting other cultures and sharing experiences with them. I feel like the world is open to me at Averna and I cannot wait for my next trip.
Q: Is test engineering a more challenging field for an engineer with the range of technologies that must be mastered?
A: I definitely think so! First of all, a test engineer needs to be very flexible in order to meet the wide range of standards that applies to all of the different industries we work with. As I mentioned before, we test the future. There is not always a known or easy solution. Our flexibility and open-minded approach are key assets to succeed in the test industry.
Q: Have you had any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life?
A: In my opinion, the people with who you grow up with are influencing who you become in the future. I think here is the right place to thank to my family, who has supported me from the very beginning. They taught me to be patient and persistent in pursuing my goals.
Q: Do you feel you achieve a good work/life balance?
A: This is very important to me. I have found that just by being present where I am has helped me balance work and life. That doesn’t mean it is easy. I am very curious about the world so sometimes it’s hard to stop thinking about a challenge that I might face at work. Sometimes it’s when you are at home and have more time to think the perfect solution just hits you.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: It’s a difficult one…. I am proud to be where I am right now. I’m happy to be surrounded by so many experts who are eager to share their experience and knowledge with me. I am also really proud of my work and team’s work with LEM Wroclaw. Like I said, this association enabled us to build the first Polish sport electric motorcycle for a student competition. Despite COVID-19 and a limited budget, we competed against other universities from around the world and won the prize for Best Rookie Team. That was what we were aiming for and our dream came true.
Q: What have you learned from Averna that will be a takeaway for the rest of your life?
A: Working at Averna has definitely taught me that there is always a solution, even if the problem is huge. The secret is to split it into small challenges and then anything becomes attainable. This approach helps me to focus on the right challenge and find the root cause. Averna also showed me that it doesn’t matter where your team is located once standards at put into place. I’ve learned that diversification of the team is not an obstacle, it is in fact a big advantage. It helps to offer different points of view, which are eye-opening even when the solution is not an obvious one.