Enhancing People’s Lives in the Medical Field. An Interview with Simon Rogler, Mechanical Engineer at konplan.
By Saloni Mittal
poly-E-fair Company Relations
October 9, 2023
Simon Rogler, a Mechanical Engineer at konplan, talks about how working at konplan makes an impact in the medical field, and discusses his current projects and work routine.
Simon Rogler has been working as a Mechanical Engineer at konplan for over a year. Before joining konplan, Simon gained valuable experience working as an intern at 9T Labs. He earned a Masters in Biomedical Engineering from ETH Zürich in 2021.
Simon, you specialized in medical engineering at ETH. What led to
your decision to start your career by joining konplan?
After completing my degree at university, I felt a bit lost. I didn’t want to pursue a career in academia, but I also didn’t know how to begin my journey in the industry. I hadn’t even considered working for a service provider. However, a friend introduced me to this sector, and I had the opportunity to learn more about it. Surprisingly, I found myself intrigued and decided to give it a shot. So, I found konplan and applied. From the very beginning, I had a positive impression of the team and the working culture. It turned out to be the best decision I’ve made so far, as it allowed me to explore various engineering topics and fields. Now, I have a clear direction in which I want to specialize.
How easy/difficult was the change from university to working life when
you started at konplan?
It has definitely been a change. Although I worked as a research assistant during my studies, I still had to adapt to some changes once I started to work full-time. However, I would not describe the change as difficult itself. Since I already had some experience in industrial applications (for instance, developing a 3D printer) it was a smooth transition for me. The biggest change, in my opinion, is the working style. During the week, I have very intense days, but I’m able to disconnect after my working time and on weekends. So, I no longer have to bring my job home, which was not the case during my studies. Now I can switch off and relax during my free time.
What is it like to be part of konplan?
I really enjoy working on the projects at konplan. Although the phrase “make a better world” may sound a bit cliché, konplan genuinely prioritizes efforts to enhance people’s lives. Since our primary objective is to improve health and quality of life, there is always a sense of purpose in what we do. Additionally, I enjoy being part of interdisciplinary teams that collaborate on projects. It is fascinating to hear the perspectives of other employees on various matters. This learning process is enriching as new ideas often emerge simply by listening to someone explain their current work.
“Although the phrase “make a better world” may sound a bit cliché, konplan genuinely
prioritizes efforts to enhance people’s lives.”
konplan was certified in 2022 as a “Great Place to Work”. How do you
experience this in your daily life at konplan?
It is a great work environment that offers a great sense of freedom. The entire focus is on providing us with the necessary tools to perform our work in the best possible way and ensuring that we feel comfortable doing it. There is also a strong emphasis on work culture itself: We are encouraged to approach each other and seek help whenever we don’t understand something or aren’t sure about a specific issue. The project processes are very well defined, and there are always documents available that can guide you in case of doubts.
Additionally, we have a supportive team, and we can always rely on our co-workers for assistance. We try to broaden our expertise, with each person having their specialty. For example, if someone has a question about additive manufacturing (3D printing), they usually will come to me.
“It is a great work environment that offers a great sense of freedom. The entire focus is on
providing us with the necessary tools to perform our work in the best possible way and
ensuring that we feel comfortable doing it.”
How would you describe the company culture and workplace?
The general environment is very social and horizontal. For example, we usually go on lunch breaks together or have café breaks. Outside of the workdays we have events per business unit where we will spend leisure time together and have activities such as Go-carting or Visiting The Höllloch in Muotathal. There are also companywide events where we would all get together for fun and socializing, but also to discuss certain work topics in different locations.
Which projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on a project where we develop a measurement method in diagnostics. We are responsible for all the mechanical parts like selecting actuators, constructing the housing, and any mechanical links. As I said, our work is interdisciplinary, and this is for example reflected in that we collaborate with an electronics team to control and power everything and make sure that the connection to the main hub remains stable.
Another cool project we have is with a startup where we are also developing a product for diagnostic purposes. The developing process started with the ideation of the concept, then we were involved in the regulatory process and are now working on a prototype to verify all our requirements and tests we defined. As you can see, we truly get to develop a project from the very beginning to the very end.
Additionally, we also have completely different areas in which we can work, for instance, I’m working now with photovoltaic elements and other fascinating systems.
Could you describe a day in your work life? What routine do you have?
The schedule varies depending on the project I’m working on. There is no fixed schedule so we will arrange meetings based on the needs of a specific product or customer. As a mechanical engineer, I often create conceptual drawings. When we need to present a specific project to a customer, there is certainly some PowerPoint work involved. There will also be occasions where we are required to calculate or test something, or where we undertake a mockup or prototype for a customer in our workshop. As I said, it will vary a lot depending on the project and the work style of each employee.
What were the most surprising moments during your first year at
I don’t think I have been surprised by the work itself. Mainly I had to adapt to new situations.
One positive surprise regarding my personal situation is related to the current location of the offices. When I started at konplan, I knew that I had to travel two hours per day commuting to the office in Rotkreuz. It was totally worth it, and I do not regret it at all. However, after approximately four months working at konplan, I was informed that a new office was opening in Zürich soon. So now I will live very close to the office, which is a nice surprise.
How do you maintain your work-life balance?
Although I just said that I’m very glad about living close to the office, commuting from Zürich to Rotkreuz was a pleasant routine for me, whether it was to prepare for the workday or to switch off afterward. Besides that, a big part of my work-life balance is doing sports. Engaging in Sports has always helped me relax and I’m glad that as an alumnus of ETH, I still have access to the range of facilities at ASVZ. Additionally, konplan offers the opportunity to enroll at a gym located nearby with a discounted membership price.
Is it possible to work partly home office?
Yes. We do not have a specific rule that defines our working time at the office or at home. There is a suggestion of two to three days at the home office. However, working in place has a significant advantage, especially in terms of work culture. It is much easier to ask for help directly or meet up with co-workers face to face.
You specialized in Medical Engineering. How does konplan make an
impact in this field?
konplan’s impact is connected to the expertise it has in a variety of fields, such as the medical field, devices, and diagnostics. With our work, we not only help to improve the experience and knowledge of other companies in the development of their products and projects but also generally improve people’s lives in the medical field. It brings me a lot of satisfaction to see how projects that I was part of are being implemented in a customer’s facility thereby enhancing the quality of someone’s life.
“It brings me a lot of satisfaction to see how projects that I was part of are being
implemented in a customer’s facility thereby enhancing the quality of someone’s life.”
What skills learned during your education have helped you the most in
First of all, I value the general basic knowledge I gained during my studies. Especially the knowledge related to the medical field has helped me a lot to understand and talk in the customer’s language. From the mechanical engineering perspective, all I learned about material properties has proved to be very useful. Additionally, critical thinking and creativity in a broad sense have been essential to tackle the challenges that I’ve faced so far. ETH taught me to think outside the box, which has been helpful in processing and creating new solutions, especially when I’m in the very early stage of a project.
If you could travel back in time, would you have done something
different at university? What skills, personal qualities, and knowledge
areas would you focus more on?
If I could travel back in time, I would have made a different choice regarding my academic pursuit. Instead of opting for the biomedical engineering master’s, I would have chosen to pursue the master’s in mechanical engineering with a biomedical focus. While the biomedical master did focus on the biological, delving into the intricacies of the cellular level, I would have preferred a broader focus on the mechanical sense of biomechanics. However, since the master’s programs offered sufficient flexibility, I was able to tailor my own program with my tutor. Ultimately, I managed to adapt to the biomedical master’s program, but it would have been easier had I pursued the mechanical engineering track.
Naturally, the choice of specialization will always depend on one’s career aspiration when finishing their studies. Personally, I have always been drawn to a more mechanical engineering approach, since I’m a big fan of additive manufacturing. But if you are more inclined to the sensorial area, the biomedical master’s program would offer the possibility to explore that direction.
Why would you recommend starting a career at konplan?
Firstly, as a freshly graduated you will want to see a broad spectrum of projects. This will give you the chance to dive into many different areas of the industry and have an enriching process of discovering where you want to specialize. Secondly, the support of our team is something that you will value a lot when you start. You can rely on the knowledge of your peers and learn so much in every new project. Lastly, at konplan, we have a very healthy culture regarding failure. I’ve observed that when something fails, it becomes a new opportunity for learning. Ultimately there will always be small issues or hurdles along the way. Instead of sweeping these issues under the rug and forgetting about them, at konplan, we strive to understand how they occurred and how we can improve for the future. Making mistakes is human, and konplan has a very healthy approach to handling them.
“Ultimately there will always be small issues or hurdles along the way. Instead of sweeping
these issues under the rug and forgetting about them, at konplan, we strive to understand
how they occurred and how we can improve for the future.”
You did several internships before joining konplan. Do you have any
advice for students who are pursuing a similar career in mechanical
Internships help to experience the industry “safely”. As it is only a limited time, you can gain a first feeling and experience in a specific field. I did an internship at a startup called 9tlabs. It was a great experience as I was involved in the actual work from the get-go, and I learned a lot about the routine of these kinds of companies. My experience as a teaching assistant helped me decide whether I want to stay in the academic field or move more towards industry. Overall, when searching for an internship, I would advise students to have a close look at the job description and find out in their first interview what their work routine would look like.