John Brassil believes that collaboration leads to valuable insight. He might also be the reason that fish sticks are so popular.

Q: Name?

John Brassil

Q: Title?

Senior Project Manager

Q: What is your expertise?

My expertise is engineering applied to systems design, including project management – especially medical devices and scientific instruments.

Q: Do you have a philosophy?

I am a big believer in the application of collaborative approaches to user-centered innovation. I enjoy working on design with colleagues inside and outside the company, toward products that matter to users.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy the teamwork and the feeling of creation that comes with design.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice you ever received?

At Heraeus, my boss Ken Aron taught me to develop working relationships with outside researchers as a way to reach beyond my personal limitations and to raise the level of my understanding for new and difficult topics. As I followed this idea, I got into teamwork in a much bigger way.

Q: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at the beginning of your career, what would you tell yourself?

I think I waited too long to get my first pair of reading glasses.

Q: What is the weirdest project you worked on (and why)?

I have worked on projects all over the globe including rural Africa. I have worked with living organs. But, the weirdest project I have worked on is a project to apply medieval storytelling methods to analyze sports big data in new ways.

Q: What is your proudest work achievement?

I’m the project manager at bb7 who works on any project, client, technical field or market. This has led me to an interestingly wide range of settings and applications for products. There’s an element of innovation that comes from the application of knowledge from one field into another. I’m really proud of the times I’ve been able to do that.

Folks are typically impressed by the grants I’ve received from the NIH or the Gates Foundation…But, I’m prouder of my successful pursuits at innovation rather than accolades.

Q: What is one thing you cannot work without?

My notebook.

Q: What is something no one knows about you?

I was in a TV commercial for Birds Eye fish sticks when I was about 10.

Q: Do you have any outside activities?

I play sports with my kids and help them with their homework. I also still love the sanctity of the public library.

Q: Education?

I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. My master’s concentration was in computer-aided design (CAD).