From Car Brakes to Heart Failure Monitoring
Sam MacNaughton, a senior electrical engineer at Abbott, leads a rewarding career that’s taken him from the academic world to the automotive industry – and now to developing medical devices.
“The throughline for my career has been in developing sensing technologies,” he says. “I work on Abbott’s CardioMEMs devices that sense pressure changes in the pulmonary artery. Our devices can help people with heart failure and their doctors monitor their hearts with the goal of keeping them out of the hospital.”
Before joining Abbott, Sam worked on technologies that sense the pressure in automobile brakes. He was in the automotive industry for the better part of a decade, and then decided to broaden his horizons.
“Working in healthcare, we make a device and that supports somebody with heart failure,” he says. “In electrical engineering terms, that's a tight control loop. That feedback comes quickly. It's an exciting and gratifying place to be.”
Sam says many of the key behaviors that drive success in any industry are similar to the skills needed to make the move into healthcare.
“We're looking for people who are data driven, who can lead and work within cross-functional teams, who are effective communicators,” Sam says. “That's all the same. Similarly, the challenges of working in a product development world with limited resources, compressed timelines, and sometimes communication gaps – those are the same, too.”
While Sam experienced a learning curve around the nuances of industry terminology and FDA approval processes, he says that the medical device industry has an advantage to onboarding people from different industries because of its emphasis on training. Sam received a customized training curriculum on the design controls and processes of the CardioMEMS quality system. That helped him get up to speed quickly and built his confidence to work with core engineering projects.
At Abbott, he found new avenues for professional growth that have inspired him to see his career in a fresh light.
“One of Abbott’s guiding principles is inclusivity,” Sam says. “Inputs from a diverse set of people lead to better outputs, and it’s the same for somebody in their career. I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to gain a new perspective.”
Indications and Important Safety Information:
Visit CardioMEMS HF System for U.S. important safety information.