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Job Title: Senior Optical Engineer
Location: Princeton, NJ
Alma mater: PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota
Favorite color: “My daughter asks me this every day! I would say blue. It’s peaceful. The world is crazy enough, and blue is a calming color.”
Hobbies outside of work: “Spending time with my kids – they’re 2 and 5. They take up most of my time. I go to the gym early in the morning, as it’s the only time I can spend to myself. Otherwise you can find me at the beach, theme parks, children’s museums, or aquariums; anything my kids are interested in doing.”
You may be surprised that… “I enjoy woodworking, but I just don’t have as much time to invest in it as I would like. I love building furniture, and I even renovated my own kitchen.”
It may not seem like it, but we all build things every single day.
Think about it…
That ham sandwich you packed for lunch? You built that. The perfect knot you tied in your running shoes this morning? You crafted that, too. How about that proposal you compiled for work? You probably built that from scratch.
Now, imagine if you had to make that ham sandwich again, exactly the same way you did before—absolutely no variations in bread, meat or cheese, and the same exact taste and appearance.
Now, envision yourself making that sandwich a MILLION times, without the slightest change in result. Seems a little daunting, doesn’t it?
While we sit here thinking about recreating sandwiches, Dr. Hong Wei, Datacolor’s Senior Optical Engineer, is constantly working to design products that are masters at repeatability and give us a competitive edge in the market.
“When I began at Datacolor seven years ago, my biggest learning curve was the difference between research and product development,” Hong says. “They’re totally different worlds. Before joining Datacolor, I could build one prototype, no problem. But to build a million units requires totally different mindsets, skills and structures.
“Within our Research and Development team, we can manually place things this way or that to meet whatever the specification is,” he says. “But the most challenging part as a company is how to reproduce that in a controlled way so that every unit is the same. That’s very tricky. But our commitment to building devices that are very repeatable is also what differentiates us from the competition.”
Hong’s Road to Datacolor
Since 2011, Hong has been a steadfast partner within Datacolor’s R&D team. But how did someone who hails from government subcontracting become so deeply invested in our industry?
It all started with one important phone call.
“I was actually contacted by a recruiter, and that was my initial touchpoint with Datacolor,” says Hong. “I had finished my degree and spent time working for a small company, a military subcontractor, that developed electroptical devices to be used in aircraft and satellites. We did a lot of projects building spectrophotometers for satellites that had laser systems. But the company didn’t seem to have a lot of support for our work. It wasn’t a very satisfying role.”
“Early in my career, I knew I needed to be building things,” he says. “The same zeal I have for building furniture, I find in designing products. I wanted a role where I could answer the question: ‘why are we doing this?’ I enjoy research, but I wanted to focus on building something that can assist people in their work flow or solve their problems. That’s rewarding.”
“In that limbo of knowing where I wanted to be, and trying to decide how to get there, that’s when Datacolor found me,” he says. “I personally had never known that color could be a business. I would guess 99% of the general population has no idea there is a whole color management industry. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned since joining Datacolor: color can be measured and controlled. It’s so important to so many!”
“I’ve grown a lot by working here, because Datacolor has allowed me the opportunity to do so. It’s not a huge corporate operation, so I get to touch base with everyone and everything,” Hong says. “From research to product development, from marketing to sales, all the way to customer support — I get to see the whole picture. It’s the perfect place for me.”
Knowing that Hong finds gratification in alleviating customer problems, we wanted to know how he helps determine the Datacolor products of the future. He told us:
“I travel with the marketing team and observe our customers. I believe our people in R&D should visit customers as often as possible, so we can anticipate their future needs. That really helps me as a technical engineer, because it allows me to look at our next product and decide how best it can solve our customer’s issues—and then add some cool features. When you are designing a product, you really have to keep in mind that your goal is to solve problems—not to build a fancy but useless toy.
“SpectraVision is a prime example of keeping our customers’ priorities in mind,” says Hong.
“That product is kind of my baby. We started it four years ago, and it’s very exciting to see where it’s gone now. We really considered the needs of our customers to make SpectraVision a reality. The customer is the key.”