Recently, LightForce Orthodontics had a chance to sit down with, Director of Hardware Engineering at LightForce, Kelsey Fafara. In our world today, it’s no secret that the representation of women in scientific fields is falling short. Kelsey is a great example of how this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
To give some initial background, Kelsey graduated from Boston University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Mechanical Engineering. While finishing her education at BU, she also started at the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biological Inspired Engineering. The Wyss Institute offers a very unique educational experience, because it values a combination of both medicine and engineering.
“The Wyss Institute introduced me to a concept that has carried me throughout all of my work experiences and something I truly value, and that is commercializing research.”
Commercializing research takes highly successful research, and turns it into something for the masses. For a long time, within corporations and universities, there has always been issues with research stalling out or never becoming recognized. What Kelsey was doing at Wyss removed those roadblocks and allowed for actual material outcomes.
“One of the biggest questions that drives me as an engineer is, how we can solve problems that people face everyday, intelligently?”
Being a female in the engineering world, Kelsey says she is frequently asked if she has noticed obstacles along the way that have tempted her to go down a different career path. Kelsey’s upbringing and the values that her parents instilled in her, are what gave her the confidence to not pay attention to the obstacles and to keep moving forward. From a young age, Kelsey’s parents encouraged her to problem solve and to stay curious.
“I think that is the fun part about what I do. I hit barriers every day. Having that problem solving nature has helped me turn obstacles into exciting opportunities to ask other intelligent people for their help. Working with team members from software, and other parts of a company to collaborate is what makes things happen.”
While Kelsey was at Harvard attending the Wyss Institute, she eventually crossed paths with Dr. Alfred Griffin III, who was finishing his residency. When Kelsey and Alfred began talking, she immediately noticed how driven and passionate he was about the orthodontic industry and how he wanted to make it better. Alfred began telling Kelsey about his vision for LightForce and she immediately began consulting after work as she decided that it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
The headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a dynamic and communicative environment. Everyone in the office enjoys playing off of one another to create and digest different ideas. Kelsey emphasizes how another set of eyes can help solve your problems that much faster. Everyone is involved and has ownership, making the LightForce workflow happen.
“When you’re surrounded by people who love what they do, and want the company to succeed, that’s the ideal type of company environment.”
Diversity is the basis of all of our backgrounds and creates different ideas and opinions to bring to the table. Being a woman in engineering, Kelsey is compelled to truly identify who she is making a product to ensure it is useful for all types of genders, ages, backgrounds.
“If we can use the goals of both the company and the patient, and think about the person from the very beginning, we can create an even better design. We can go faster and create better solutions.”