Research & Development Engineer, DePuy Synthes

Apr 14, 2021
Research & Development Engineer, DePuy Synthes

An alum of the 2016 SMDP MedTech Scholar cohort, Geoffrey Navarro Vale, is a Research & Development Engineer at DePuy Synthes. Geoffrey works on product development for medical devices, identifying user needs and transferring them into design inputs.

As an R&D Engineer, Geoffrey develops, verifies and validates product design and collaborates on the manufacturing, quality, marketing and regulatory aspects of devices all the way to market release, and in some instances post-market release.

What is the highest degree you have earned and what can you tell us about your academic path?

My highest earn degree is a Master in Bioengineering. I started my academic path at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM), where I earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. During my undergraduate studies, I participated in the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) by presenting my research on 3D tissue printing.  I also developed my leadership skills by taking a role within the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where I worked on projects and acted as a project manager to members to get a pseudo-internship experience. I was also the Vice-President of Industrial Affairs within Alpha Helix Biomedical Society (AHBS), where I was responsible of identifying industry opportunities through our members.

Where do you work now and what is your company about?

Currently I work with DePuy Synthes which is a part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. DePuy Synthes offers one of the world’s most comprehensive portfolios of orthopaedic products and services in the areas of joint reconstruction, trauma, spine, sports medicine, cranio-maxillofacial, power tools and biomaterials.

How did you first learn about the company?

I first learned about the company through the Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program for Medical Technology (SMDP  MedTech). As a Scholar of the program in 2016, I was paired with a mentor who works at DePuy Synthes.

What do you like most about the company?

The thing I most like about J&J as a company is the attentive nature they have towards their employees. You can really see how they take care of their employees first over everything else.

The collaborative nature of employees at J&J really makes me feel accepted and heard, as part of the company culture. Lastly the opportunity to grow within such a large company, both technically and as a leader is what really captures my desire to be with the company. Additionally, J&J offer many programs tailored towards the different different interests and needs of its employees. Last year I was able to lead a Volunteer trip with a J&J team to Puerto Rico to aid in disaster relief after Hurricane Maria.

What skills make you successful in your role and why did you choose this role?

I come from an academic research background. My interest in marrying that experience with industry really paved the way for a smooth transition to the company. What elevates my success in my role is to never stop being a scholar.

Learning fast, asking the right questions, and pursuing all knowledge gaps translates exceptionally well in my R&D role. Having an interdisciplinary background provided me with the building blocks to excel in the work I do. I chose this role because it allows me to continue to be who I am by targeting my interests.

How do you define success?

For me success is directly tied with happiness. If you have a sense of fulfillment and joy at the end of the day, you have reached success.

What's the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

Knowing that the products I work on have a significant impact on the quality of life of the patients really motivates me and gives me a great sense of fulfillment.

What advice do you have for students and job seekers?

Try to identify your path as early as possible. Speak with people who have already gone through the transition to an industry job and try to to learn as much as possible. Once you have determined a path that best fits you, start to get involved as best as you can.

Try to develop skills that are essential for the career you have chosen and connect with people in that business. Some people have the false notion that they need to finish their degree as fast as possible. It is better to take it slow and take some time to determine where you are heading to before trying to cross the finish line - which may not be where you wanted to end up.