From failure to innovation: A story of engineering success

-January 20, 2016

Al Eisaian is no stranger to failure. It’s what has made him a successful engineer and entrepreneur.

Beginning as a hardware test engineer and advancing through product and business unit management, Eisaian is currently the CEO of IntelinAir Inc., an aerial information analytics firm, the fifth company he has co-founded.

Eisaian took the Tuesday keynote stage at DesignCon, an event owned by EDN’s parent company UBM, and followed an emotional tribute to Steve Weir. Weir was a self-taught engineer, described by his DesignCon brethren as a “real engineer” through and through who built a career and life by sharing knowledge and learning, and by moving into challenging and new areas of design.

Through his career build, Eisaian said he “learned very quickly how important it is for things to work the way they are supposed to, the way they are advertised to work.” In our busy world, he noted, “we sometimes miss the details.”

To create success as an engineer and entrepreneur, Eisaian approaches missteps as learning opportunities. “There are no failures. Just lessons,” he said.

Eisaian shared his own framework for achieving success, dubbed the 5 Cs for:

  1. Clarity: “Fundamentally, everyone has to answer the question ‘why?’. Why does this [design/product/company] exist?” One must be clear on that.
  2. Commitment:  “Once you deeply care about something, that passion brings about commitment,” he said. Eisaian elaborated that if you truly have something you want to devote your life to – be it a design, a start-up, a family—you will not succeed without a strong commitment to that thing’s success. 
  3. Competency: Success doesn’t just come because you want it. Success takes learning, discussion with peers and competitors, a design plan, and attention. “It takes focus—focused study, focused conversation, focused tinkering – to know what you are talking about,” he said. 
  4. Creativity: “It’s not enough to know what’s out there,” Eisaian said of engineering beyond being competent. “You have to start sharing and taking risks.”
  5. Community: Eisaian referenced Weir’s contributions to the DesignCon community and the enormous appreciation his peers showed for his willingness to collaborate. “The days of being the lonely engineer in the corner inventing are over. Collaborate in such a way that brings things that matter to the world,” he advised.
Eisaian closed by stating: “In this new era, the calculated risk takers are the ones winning.”

What’s your take? Are you a calculated risk taker or the lonely engineer in the corner? Share your thoughts below.

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