About rob c.

Here is a tiny little corner of my website devoted to my work.

i’m rob colonna, a mechanical engineer, product design engineer, jack of many trades.  Over nine years, i’ve designed everything from tiny bits of plastic that cost a penny and a half, to coffee makers that cost $100 to giant telecommunications switches that cost millions (full disclosure: i didn’t make the expensive parts).

Here’s my résumé.

Here’s my portfolio.

It’s possible, depending upon when you’re reading this, that i may not be permanently employed.  If so, you should probably hire me to make things for you.

Work: Battery Powered Household Pump

In 2011, I worked on a project for a national brand of marine pump products that was looking to expand into the household market using their existing, proven pump technology.

They came to us with some preconceived notions of how much performance they would get with existing pump and battery selections versus their hypothetical use case.  Experiments and benchmarking showed that likely performance would be far short of what their marketing research suggested would sell.  Beyond the need for a larger battery, they needed to provide a larger pump head for household use than for marine use (picture pumping out a basement versus a dinghy).  We came up with multiple new configurations using their existing technology, and breadboarded proof-of-concept systems to show that they delivered.

After that, my colleagues generated a rugged, user-friendly, stable industrial design, that could be thrown into the flooded space and left to do its job.  Implementation of this as a part-waterproof, part-immersed housing with low cost parts and a minimum number of tools was a fun challenge.

I never bought one, and the project ended short of completion, partially because my former employer shut my office down, but the end product still looks like what we were working on.  Hope everybody that bought one liked it.  Unfortunately, it’s no longer available.

Amazon listing

Datasheet

humancentipump

Work: Life Sciences Prep Device

In 2010, with colleagues at a previous employer, I spearheaded the design of a sample preparation tool for use with precision scientific equipment.

While this device is simple in principle, the need for ease of use, certainty of sample integrity, and fast operation drove an aggressive industrial design, which presented a severe engineering challenge–designing a self-sealing manifold with a three-dimensional seal bead.  This required months of detailed prototyping, careful inspection, and CFD analysis to ensure that production parts would balance ease of use with self-sealing function the way we needed it to.

Beyond that, the device was intended to drive sales of a custom disposable optimized for the system.  While the function of this was identical to well-understood production parts, adaptations to it for high throughput meant that processes for assembly and production were as much of a consideration as part design.

Product page

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Work: Scientific Instrument

In 2006, I had a small part in the first generation design of a successful scientific instrument for a globally recognized life sciences company.  In 2011, with colleagues, I had the opportunity to help redesign it from the ground up.

While the first generation delivered on its promise of reducing wait time to process experiments from hours to minutes, its custom disposables were expensive, and were constantly being reused, leading to inaccurate output.

The new design featured a new system to enable use of a more streamlined disposable, within a reposable, washable frame.  Design and prototyping of this frame system to prove out secure hold, flat and stretched sample area, and fully sealed housing was the focus of our early effort.  `

Product page