Jeff Bertrand

Jeff Bertrand

Senior Principal Scientist, Research & Development


Medtronic Brain Therapies

Irvine, CA USA

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
I think the biggest one was when I got Ds in a couple of high school classes and my parents backed off and said it's your life. It was a revelation to realize it was all down to me.
Late 60s and early 70s were not good for manufacturing or aerospace jobs. I decided to avoid those fields
Decided to go into health care, dentistry specifically.
I liked working in a lab so took a QC chemistry job with a construction company while applying to dental schools. They paid me to go to night school at USC to study chemical engineering in polymers.
Two things: 1. got laid off from my chemistry job and discovered med device. 2. failed to get into dental school.
While doing lab work in my med device job, the combination of biological and polymer science education I had led me to make a suggestion that solved a problem my engineer boss had been working on.
I bloomed in med device development and advanced quickly on my creative problem solving in spite of not having my doctorate.
Keep following my journey

Education

High School
Sunny Hills High School
Bachelor
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
California State University Fullerton
Graduate
Chemical Engineering
University of Southern California

Career

Senior Principal Scientist, Research & Development

Design and develop new medical devices.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Engineering
Design
Problem Solving

Day to Day

Working in a regulated industry means a lot of documentation but there is also a lot of design testing against industry standards and internal requirements for the project. One day might be writing a protocol, analyzing test data or conducting actual testing.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

I actually disagree that most technical skills come from books. The books certainly help open the door and are the obvious first step, but to progress and contribute in your career, I feel hands-on experience is equally if not much more important. If you don't have a hands-on feel for things, and cannot personally perform technical procedures, you cannot claim to be technically skilled. Well, that's my experience/opinion at least.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Career fairs and company sponsored projects at school can give you a lot of insight. Don't just listen to your career counselor, look at job adds that are appealing to you, then research what's needed to pursue those opportunities.

Recommended Education

My career is not related to what I studied. I'd recommend this path instead:

undergrad
Bachelor
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Friends:

"I heard discouraging comments about becoming a dentist (my original objective). Frankly, going into medical device, no one I knew really understood it, so I don't recall any negative comments."

Challenges I Overcame

Learning Issues