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Engineering Week: Meet our Engineers Q&A with Brett Balder

In celebration of Engineering Week 2021, we’re hosting a Q&A series with our Engineers. Meet Brett Balder, Control Systems Engineer at PAR Systems.


Q: What is your engineering discipline? / What type of engineer are you at PAR?


A: I am a Control Systems Engineer in the life science division of PAR. I design the electrical and software aspects of machines so that they move and behave intelligently.


Q: What do you enjoy the most about engineering at PAR?


A: The diversity of technologies and customer products means that no two machines are alike. I am always learning about and implementing new technologies. I get to play the role of ‘mad-scientist’ by dissecting and reconstructing machines so that they hum.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge while an Engineer at PAR?


A: My biggest challenge is intrinsic to what I find enjoyable; complex machines and processes often come with a steep learning curve and new projects frequently require integrating a device that no one else in the company has used before. Coupled with the strict deadlines of the manufacturing industry, these machines produce enough of a challenge to keep my working life interesting.


Q: What would you say was your biggest engineering accomplishment that you are most proud of?


A: I worked in a research lab at the University of Minnesota for a short time after finishing my undergraduate degree. In that time, I was involved in the development of a Human-Machine Interface for a machine that performed micro-surgical craniotomies on research mice. Seeing my program successfully drive an autonomous operation on a living animal was very memorable and rewarding.


Q: What does being a PAR Engineer mean to you?


A: Being a PAR engineer means that I am an integral member of novel manufacturing methods. I help customers envision and develop one-of-a-kind processes.


Q: What has been your biggest learning moment as an Engineer?


A: Unlike what you learn in school, a lot of engineering comes down to trial-and-error and learning as you go. While it’s important to do your homework before starting a project, you have to behave fluidly when unforeseen influences cause your designs to pivot.


Q: Why did you decide to go into Engineering?


A: I was always drawn to technology and construction. From my pile of Legos as a kid, hobby woodworking as a young teenager, and machine building as a young adult, I realized engineering was the best way to keep both my hands and head busy.


Q: What advice would you give to a new employee just PAR as a new engineer? Or to a student looking to go into Engineering


A: Always remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Whether it be school or work or life, the onset of new endeavors is daunting but they can always be dismantled into smaller problems that, on their own, are never too difficult to handle.