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The New Voices of Quality

Nathaniel Piland

Nathaniel Piland

Title: Senior reliability engineer.

Santa Rosa, CA

Quality at the beginning: That’s what Nathaniel Piland has advocated—and will continue to advocate—throughout his career.

"I believe the role of quality will evolve to being more at the forefront of organizations, leading product developments from the beginning as partners with research and development," said the 30-year-old senior reliability engineer at Medtronic Cardiovascular, a Medtronic subsidiary.

Piland doesn’t just advocate this point, he acts on it, said Catherine Priestley, Piland’s colleague who nominated him for QP’s New Voices of Quality. "Nathan is successfully shifting R&D’s design approach to one of partnership with design assurance engineers to design quality into products from the beginning," she said. "Nathan shares his passion for designing high-quality products by drawing on his foundation in mechanical engineering, test method development and commercial product experience."

Piland experienced the role quality and design for Six Sigma (DFSS) methods could play in product development when he worked at Becton Dickenson Medical. There, he became one of the first certified DFSS Black Belts and worked to integrate DFSS into the company’s culture.

Now, he’s driving DFSS principles at Medtronic in the company’s own version of DFSS called design for reliability and manufacturing (DRM), looking for ways to mitigate risk in the product development process "and harmonize the method in which product teams approach product development," he said.

Piland also spends time as an internal trainer for DRM at Medtronic. "He ensures that he communicates with the team and our leadership to incorporate improvements to our quality methods and systems across the business," Priestley said in her nomination. "Nathan eagerly identifies improvement opportunities and gladly takes responsibility for ensuring that they are incorporated into our development and training activities."

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