Testimonial Jeroen | Product developer
Can you describe what you do at Comate?
As a product developer, I’m involved throughout the entire product development process. That’s precisely what makes the job so interesting to me, because the course of study for product development includes the entire process, from concept to production and everything in between. When students are looking for a job in the field, hoping to find all of that, they often only find jobs that deal with part of the process. But then I learned about Comate, and it offers the dream of a product developer. It’s unique to be able to work on projects from start to finish.
Throughout the week, I have meetings with the client, 3D work, and CAD work where you can lose yourself for a few days. But I’m also making prototypes, especially in the beginning, to quickly test something. When the prototypes arrive after weeks of drawing, it feels a bit like Christmas. “Ah, the packages are here! Finally!”. And then the prototypes don’t work as you hoped and you have to start again, but that keeps it interesting.
In addition to the normal tasks of a product developer, at Comate I also get additional tasks such as communicating with the client or making an estimate for a new project. That creates a deeper commitment, being more involved in the process and feeling what the client is feeling. I find it very pleasant and important to be fully involved and to ensure that you know what you are working for. I find it nice that I’m not just doing an executive job somewhere.
It’s the total package. I think most of the jobs at Comate are like mine, only limited by the individual in the position. A lot is expected of you, of course, but that ensures that it remains interesting.
What’s it like to work in close collaboration with engineers?
I think it has a lot of value, because as a trained product developer from UAntwerpen, you have a very broad knowledge base, but you occasionally miss some technical depth. It’s good that an engineer can sometimes give you feedback, like, “That’s not going to be strong enough” or “That’s not going to work”. It’s a really good combination to effectively create a successful product.
Interaction is crucial throughout the product development process. In the beginning, engineers tend to say, “I have a solution that will work and that’s it”. Then it’s the responsibility of the product developer to broaden their vision and to push further. That’s the point of collaborative ideation and brainstorming. To say, “No guys, let’s keep looking for a bit. Let’s look at some crazier ideas. Who knows, a genius idea or direction may emerge from something that we have not yet looked into”.
It’s very complementary. Engineers often think differently. They will use the principles of physics, while a product developer thinks a little more “loosely”. And that combination and communication work very well to move forward together. It can be a learning process, as both sides grow a bit towards each other so we understand each other better after a while.
You worked on NGRAVE the last few months. What was that like?
I really liked the NGRAVE project. In my opinion, it was an example of a perfect project. It could work on it from looking for ideas to final production and everything in between. I also enjoyed working together with the electronics engineers. From a product development point of view, it might not have been the most complex product, but it was very interesting to carry out the entire process properly from start to finish.
It was also a great collaboration with the client. That's another great thing about Comate: working with start-ups. You get to work with highly-motivated people. And if you are on the same wavelength, then it is no longer a 'customer - supplier' relationship, but a team synergy. In my opinion, it is really great to work on those types of projects.
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