Marek Noháč: A Design Engineer Will Never Say “This Can’t Be Done”

Published 14 Oct 2019

Marek Noháč has been working as a Design Engineer for two years. He graduated from the Secondary Technical School in Česká Lípa, and later the Czech Technical University – and he found a job at Lasvit when he was just fresh out of college. We spoke about the benefits of his current work, the difficult choices a design engineer has to make, and why he loves living in Northern Bohemia.

In your profile for the career website you mention that your work is also a hobby for you. What exactly do you enjoy most?

That’s definitely one of the most important conditions for me – I need to enjoy the work I do. I love being a design engineer for numerous reasons, but I will try mentioning the three most important ones. Firstly, it’s the creativity. I like the fact that I can’t just work in a run-of-the-mill fashion. I have to keep studying new things in order to develop further. We are constantly surrounded by new technologies and we must keep pace with that in order to be able to develop new ones. I also like the diversity of the work. Each day brings something new, and I never really know what exactly I will come up against. It might be a banal problem, or it can be a new job which will keep the whole team busy for many hours, days, or weeks. And lastly, I enjoy the fact that I can implement my own ideas. It’s amazing that I can create designs simply based on a picture or on an original thought, and that someone makes them into physical components from which you can assemble a functioning system and then the final product – whether it’s a car, a rocket, or our own lights and chandeliers. When this happens, I tell myself “I made this thing happen, I made the construction design for that!”

Since work is a hobby for you, do you still have time for other activities as well?

Of course! Here in the north you can do all kinds of things – from hiking to skating, to bicycling. I enjoy doing photography and the surrounding nature gives me opportunity to take some beautiful shots. I also like dissecting various machines and mechanisms and then gain inspiration from them for my own line of work – but I don’t know if that really qualifies as a hobby. (laughs)

After your studies in Prague you decided to return to the region of Česká Lípa. Apart from the possibility of doing sports, what do you like about your life here in the north?

I was basically returning home. I have parents here, as well as many friends since my days at the Technical School, and the landscape here is beautiful. But that doesn’t mean I completely snubbed Prague. I still have friends from my college days there, and I stay in contact with my teachers at the Czech Technical University. But Prague really offers a bit of a different life style, and in today’s fast-paced world I find it pleasant to live in a smaller city, where I have a bit more space and peace of mind. Furthermore, northern Bohemia is quite industrialized, so one can gain inspiration for design and engineering at every turn.

What do you think is most attractive about being a design engineer, and what is not so good?

One thing that is definitely attractive is what I mentioned at the start – each person has an opportunity to create and to develop personally. An artist paints paintings or makes sculptures. A designer designs, for example, beautiful chandeliers. A design engineer is basically also a kind of artist, but his works are so specific that only another design engineer can understand them. It is just the end product, the symbiosis between design, glass, electronics and construction solutions, which can be understood and appreciated by everyone equally. What is not so attractive in my line of work is the need to take responsibility for one’s own decisions.

What do you mean by this “responsibility” for one’s own decisions?

The more experienced the design engineer is, the easier it is to make a decision. It is always based on a certain feel. And if I’m not one hundred percent sure, then I pick up a calculator and dust off the text books from my university, which have proved to be invaluable for me these past years. I then go through the authorization process which is similar to the one we had at school. The design engineer presents what he or she managed to do that week, or during some other period, and the head engineer gives commentaries to the whole design. Meanwhile, the head engineer goes through the entire technical documentation, while I try to present my concrete intention as best as I can. If something is not clear, he asks, or gives his opinion about how to go forward with the project.

Last year you went on two business trips to Dubai for a few weeks. Did this experience bring you any new inspiration for your own work?

Absolutely! I especially had the opportunity to observe the work of my colleagues in Sales. This real-life experience can really change your perspective on things. I gained much insight into dealing with partners and clients, whom I otherwise don’t get to meet much in my line of work. I enjoyed the stay in Dubai also on a personal level, as I was staying in a foreign country for quite some time, and got a real taste of a different culture, language and religion. I was there also for Ramadan…

Can you share with us some tips or some tell-tale signs which might help people realize that they are in fact a design engineer at heart?

That’s a difficult question. Each person is unique and you can never spot a design engineer just by looking at them. Maybe if they preferred building blocks or Lego as children, or disassembled a scooter or a bicycle now and then. I will rather tell you what a design engineer should be like: he or she should be a person which maybe doesn’t speak much, but you will definitely never hear them say “this can’t be done.” And even though they might be spending a lot of time in front of the computer, they should not be afraid to put on their work shoes, grab a screw driver, and put some muscle into it.

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