Volta Blog

Life at Volta: R&D Engineering

April 4, 2024

Life at Volta: R&D Engineering

Carlos Ruiz-Vargas is an R&D Engineer, and Process Development Lead at Volta Labs. Realizing the potential of this technology, he joined the team in April of 2023. The team at Volta Labs moves quickly and collaboratively to meet milestones, giving them the opportunity to expand their individual areas of expertise. The team has a laser focus on the mission and potential real-world impact, finding joy in solving challenges together.

A holistic systems-level approach to problem solving strengthens engineering at Volta Labs

Engineers at Volta Labs work in close collaboration to build a platform that will change the world of genomics.

In creating Volta’s first sample prep instrument, Callisto, the team at Volta Labs faced a variety of challenges in both the engineering and biological constraints for the instrument.

“The product utilizes a wide variety of technologies including pipettors, thermal control, electrowetting, and many sensors” says Carlos. “Engineers who like to tinker around have a lot of range.”

Engineering work at Volta Labs involves multiple subsystems, providing ample opportunities for professional growth, increasing breadth and depth of skillsets. Hardware and software engineering work together in collaboration with Application Development colleagues to understand requirements and plan how all these subsystems interact.

Udayan Umapathi, founder and CEO, has shaped team culture to move beyond traditional disciplines which allows the team to work more fluidly. The team prides themselves on being anti-disciplinary, where their strength comes from a holistic systems-approach, as opposed to individual disciplines driving their work.

"We get to interact with experts in biology closely on a daily basis. Engineers and biologists are very involved in the full product development process and we have visibility into all areas of the business," said Carlos. “Transparency is one of our operating principles.”

Building an anti-disciplinary team has been a key differentiator for Volta Labs as a startup that has just entered the commercialization stage. United by a shared vision, building a team that’s hands-on and willing to see the forest through the trees has allowed the team to move at a very fast pace. Everyone owns their expertise, but understands the value of working together to keep the organization moving forward.

Anti-disciplinary, but not anti-sandwiches 

As a result of the team’s anti-disciplinary, highly collaborative design, Volta’s Engineering team is tight knit. When the team isn’t working on solutions in the lab, they’re palling around in the kitchen or enjoying sandwiches from their favorite local sandwich shop, J.Pace & Sons (often followed by the eternal debate about the correct pronunciation of “Pace”). Carlos recently led a sake tasting for the team; other team members are well-known for their barista skills.

“We genuinely enjoy spending time together. This is noticeable during lunchtime, grabbing coffee and at happy-hours. Lunch is catered twice a week, but even on non-catered days, we’re usually eating together," said Carlos.

As is part of the classic startup experience, one of the highlights of being part of Volta Labs is the camaraderie, working together to solve hard challenges and build something meaningful.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but trusting the people that you work with makes it a lot easier.”

It’s clear that this approach has allowed Volta to stay agile and create a highly effective team environment. If you’re a driven engineer who’s eager to explore anti-disciplinary work, we’d love to connect with you. Check out our careers page to learn more about our team and our open positions!

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