Being an Engineer

Tommy Kronmark Engineering Branding, Engineering Marketing, and Making Biodiesel

January 14, 2022 Tommy Kronmark Season 3 Episode 2
Being an Engineer
Tommy Kronmark Engineering Branding, Engineering Marketing, and Making Biodiesel
Show Notes Transcript

 Tommy is a bioengineer with bachelors and masters degrees from Cal Poly who, in addition to building medical devices, helps driven engineers land dream jobs using LinkedIn and personal branding. On the side, he barbeques, works on his truck, and brews his own biodiesel. 

The Being An Engineer podcast is brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical & other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipment such as cycle test machines, custom test fixtures, automation equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations and more. You can find us on the web at www.teampipeline.us.  

 

ABOUT BEING AN ENGINEER

The Being an Engineer podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people resources, and opportunities. We feature successful mechanical engineers and interview engineers who are passionate about their work and who made a great impact on the engineering community.

The Being An Engineer podcast is brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical & other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipment such as cycle test machines, custom test fixtures, automation equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations and more. You can find us on the web at www.teampipeline.us

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Presenter:

The Being An Engineer Podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people resources and opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Tommy Kronmark:

A brand, at its core, really, is like reputation right? If you think BMW, you think a luxury foreign car, if you think Volkswagen, you think safety right? That's, that's their brand. So personal brand is really about your personal reputation. And when I talk about personal branding, really I'm talking about your online personal brand, your online reputation.

Aaron Moncur:

Hello, and welcome to the Being An Engineer Podcast. Today we're speaking with Tommy Kronmark who is a bioengineer. In addition to building medical devices, Tommy helps driven engineers land dream jobs using LinkedIn and personal branding. On the side, he barbecues works on his truck and brews his own biodiesel, which we definitely need to talk about because I've never met anyone who makes biodiesel. Anyway, Tommy, welcome, and thanks so much for being with me today on the podcast.

Tommy Kronmark:

Right on. Thanks for having me, Aaron.

Aaron Moncur:

All right. So what made you decide to become an engineer?

Tommy Kronmark:

Well, typical story playing with Legos as a kid. I remember my parents used to tell the story of getting woken up to the sound of rummaging through Legos. So that was definitely most of my childhood. Eventually, that transitioned into RC cars and taking apart RC helicopters and flashlights and whatever I could get my hands on. never really knew what I was actually playing with these, the motors and the parts. But it's still a lot of fun kind of figuring out what things worked, or what things did. And eventually, that transitioned into trucks and cars and working on bigger things. And then eventually, I found myself at an engineering school. And that's kind of really where it took off. You know,

Aaron Moncur:

Do you have any personal projects going on right now? Well, you're you're building something or developing something?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, there's this one that I've been working on. It's like a magnetic universal mount, or my truck. So I can mount a roof rack, I can mount a light pa pods, I can manage any off road equipment and accessories. And I have a prototype on my truck now, but it's not quite what I'm looking for. So it's, you know, it's an iterative design process. And I'm still working on it.

Aaron Moncur:

Yeah, yeah. How long has this project been going on?

Tommy Kronmark:

Oh, wow. better part of a year now. I think I had the prototype finished in May. So it's been on my car for about six months. And it's holding up well, and I have some, some newer designs that I've yet to, you know, realize, but hoping that it comes out. And I'll really have like a finished product soon.

Aaron Moncur:

Yeah, that's awesome. I can't wait to see it when it's finished. I hope you send me some pictures of it.

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, absolutely.

Aaron Moncur:

All right. Well, when you were in school, or I guess, when you graduated from school, you had a 4.0 GPA, which is super impressive. I know for sure. I did not have anywhere near a 4.0 GPA, but you did, which by itself is impressive yet, you you struggled to find a job. And I'm guessing that must have been really tough. Tell me about that, that period of life and what was going on?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, so I think it was, you know, it was closer to three points. 3.8, 3.9. But I really, I poured all of my time into my classes and getting good grades. And I figured, you know, I'm at a good school, I have a good degree, good GPA, that's going to be enough to kind of get myself in the door and industry and, and that's, that's just kind of what I expected. And, you know, I kept applying to all these different jobs and really just getting ghosted and not even getting interviews, and I was kind of thinking, something's wrong here. Right? So it was pretty demotivating.

Aaron Moncur:

How did you pull yourself out of that rut, right? Because I can imagine how that much of must have felt and like, how did you change your mindset or lift yourself up?

Tommy Kronmark:

Right, well, I think I had a realization that pouring all of my time into GPA was only one aspect of, you know, whole spectrum of things that are really valuable, right? So there's networking skills, there's like, actually applying what you learn, right? And like, practicing and getting results. So really, I just had that one arm of all these other things that were valuable. So if I could do that one thing really well, what's to say that I can't do these other things? Well, so that's when I kind of had that realization. Let me pour some time into these other things, and really dove into networking and doing these side projects and like learning the, the, the actual skills that I learned about, like actually practicing and creating results. And putting that all together, I kind of was able to make a really thorough profile and application. And that's kind of that's kind of where the whole work, you know.

Aaron Moncur:

Alright, we're gonna get more into that in a little bit. First, I want to talk a little bit about to health where you work right now. So eventually, you did find a job currently, you work at Cue Health as a bio engineer. I looked at the product on the website, and it looks very cool. If I understand it correctly. It's like a personal diagnostic device. They describe it as a lab that fits in the palm of your hand, what can you tell us about how the product works and who it's intended for?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, that's exactly right. So it's a personal and fast diagnostic system. It's actually marketed to the consumer. Up until now, it's been used in a lot of clinic settings. But as of next week, which is going to be mid November 2021, we're launching directly to the consumer. So any person can actually purchase the system. And it's a little reader about the size of an apple, and an individual single use disposable test cartridges. So you can test yourself from the comfort of your home for COVID. And then eventually, we're going to be expanding the menu to different flus COVID flu Multiplex, RSV, strep, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, cholesterol, there's a huge list of

Aaron Moncur:

Wow

Tommy Kronmark:

...of tests on the menu that are going to be all these different test cartridges on the same reader platform. So that's, that's the gist of it right there.

Aaron Moncur:

That's awesome. So this really empowers individuals to diagnose themselves. Not to say that it's like a replacement for going to a doctor, necessarily, but it's at least a first step, right? Where you can take some of that power in the palm of your hand, no pun intended, and figure out what's going on and maybe how to start trying to treat yourself. That's really cool.

Tommy Kronmark:

Right? It, it follows the trend of decentralized healthcare and bring it down to the home. So I think, and I'm not too sure about this, but I think you can actually order Cue tests via DoorDash.

Aaron Moncur:

Is that right?

Tommy Kronmark:

I think so. I'm not too sure. But I think that's the plan. We'll see.

Aaron Moncur:

I hope to see it on Amazon Prime in the not too distant future.

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, gladly.

Aaron Moncur:

My platform of choice. Yeah, I did a blood test recently, where I went, I forgot what the company was called. But it was some company that sells online and you place an order for this specific test and they send you a little kit and you prick your finger and put some blood in and send it off to a lab and then get your results, it was, it was way more convenient than going into a doctor's office and and then going to a lab afterwards and dealing with all of that headache. So the decentralized healthcare, I'm a big fan of I can't wait to see Cue's product and more likely come out over the in the future. So that consumers will be able to buy this in, did you say a few months next year, sometime?

Tommy Kronmark:

Next week, actually, so as early as November 2021.

Aaron Moncur:

Okay, and what is your day to day like as a bioengineer? Can you share a few specific things that you do just to give people a sense for what, what is it that a by bio engineer does every day?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, so I hav, well, I went to school for biomedical engineering. And I got a job as a bio engineer, which is probably the most straightforward. You know, a B thing you could do, but really what my role is, is a failure analysis engineer. So anytime we're building products, and they fail QC, or we find a product that's not conforming to what we expect it to. It's my job to go in and figure out specifically what's going on? What's what's not working that it's like it's supposed to? Is it a design problem? Is it a manufacturing thing? Is it some process variability? Do we just have the wrong or like a defective material? And whatever that answer is, I get to, first of all, confirm that and make sure that that is the case. And then feed that information back to the appropriate team. So whether it's quality process, manufacturing, it's it's full circle. And that's one of the things I really like about it. It's, people say biomedical engineering is sort of a jack of all trades major. And I personally love that, and I love that this job reflects that as well as I find something and then I have to know a little bit about all these other departments and who to contact and how does this fit in? It's all full circle.

Aaron Moncur:

Kind of the radiologist of.

Tommy Kronmark:

Sure.

Aaron Moncur:

Yeah. Okay. You have talked about your job at Cue as being your your dream job. And I think that a challenge for a lot of people is, is defining what it is that makes a job, their dream job, like, what is it that we're really trying to accomplish in our careers and in our lives? How did you define what needed to be true for a job to qualify as your dream job? And then how did how did you know that you had found it?

Tommy Kronmark:

Well, you know, that question you asked me just now, I think that's pretty much the exact question I asked myself about a year ago. So, you know, flashback to a year ago, I was coming out of undergrad, I had that really high GPA, but I couldn't get a job that actually kind of persuaded me to go into my master's program. But it was also at that, that time when I was really reflecting, and, and trying to figure out what do I actually want to do as I prepare to graduate and, and leave school? So I really broke it down, I figured, okay, what are the things that are important to me, right? It's, it's the industry, it's the products that I'm working on, it's the company culture, certainly the location, that was a big thing for me. Other benefits, like PTO and pay, those are also important. So I tried asking myself as many questions as I could, and then answering all of those and leaving some margin of, of, you know, wiggle room. So I don't lock myself in too tight. But I had a really good idea of what it was I was looking for. And then when this opportunity in Cue Health came, I saw from the job description that matched some of the things I was looking for. And then I went a step farther, and I started reaching out to current employees, and I would, I would ask for 10 minutes of their time, if they could just tell me about what it's like to work there. You know, do you like your coworkers? Do you like showing up to work? Are you proud of the products that you make, trying to evoke some of the some of the answers and the questions that I had asked myself earlier. And I got resounding confirmation that it was something that I was, I was looking for. So you know, fast forward a bit more, and I ended up taking the job. You know, I don't think it's something you can fully understand until you've actually been in the role. But I think you can get a pretty good idea of, of what your dream job might be before you actually take a role.

Aaron Moncur:

That's a really good idea to reach out to some of those people actually working there and get their feedback about it. Did you use LinkedIn for that? Or some other means?

Tommy Kronmark:

Absolutely. Yeah. I, at that turning point, when I was figuring out what I wanted to do, I really dove in on the LinkedIn engagement and networking and reaching out. And, you know, that's really what motivated me to build these connections in these relationships with people at companies that I'd be interested in working for. And, you know, through doing that, I was able to, you know, confirm that the companies on my list were companies I would be interested in and also cross some out, but it sounded like people weren't really happy there. And, you know, that's something you can't get from an online application or Glassdoor maybe

Aaron Moncur:

From looking at their website. Yeah.

Tommy Kronmark:

Right

Aaron Moncur:

Imagine having spent all this time getting a job and then realizing for the first month that you just you're miserable there. I had another question. And it has just slipped my mind I really I remember what it was, what are a couple of the things that were on your list as far as these things need to be true in order for me to be really happy, where I work.

Tommy Kronmark:

So location was big, I was looking at San Diego and San Francisco, I've, I've always been a California person. So it's, I was really looking between those two places. Luckily, diagnostics, which is sort of my specialty and medical devices, those, both of those areas are huge hubs for diagnostics and medical devices. So that was easy. The culture I wanted, I wanted to be surrounded by young co workers and be excited to come to work. And then finally, impact. I wanted whatever, the product that I was working on to actually have an impact and, and to be able to see that impact in customers and in the world, right. And I know that that last one's true now, because my mom raves about this product, she

Aaron Moncur:

Is that right, she uses it?

Tommy Kronmark:

She knows all the difference about it.

Aaron Moncur:

Oh, how cool.

Tommy Kronmark:

She hasn't used it yet. But she keeps she keeps up with the news. And, Cue Health is, was the diagnostic company that helps the the NBA get back on the courts, and she tells us story to everybody she meets.

Aaron Moncur:

That's awesome. Very cool. Well, I'm starting to understand a little bit about the process that you went through to land the job at to health, you, you went to school at Cal Poly, which I have heard from so many people is is one of if not the best school for engineering, here in the US because they are so focused on providing opportunities that allow you to learn practical experience. In fact, their motto is learn by doing. What, how did you apply that philosophy to your job search?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, great question. You know, I think you actually, you mentioned that they provided the opportunities, I think that's great framing, they really stress learn by doing, but ultimately, they can't force you to, to be learned by doer, right? So they provide all the opportunities, and they really motivate you to give it a shot and, and learn by failing really. And then learning and then doing it again, right. So really that iterative process of learn by failing and then learn by doing again, you can take that same, you know, method and apply it to your job search. Right. So, you know, first first thing I did was I just applied to a bunch of, you know, online apps. That didn't work, it failed, right? So then I started building connections and trying to get referrals. That would get me in the door that would get me interviews. And then I really started, you know, honing in on what it is that I do my, my personal grant, like I am known as an expert in this field. And that's what really helped me in my job search, right, so. So backing up, it was like an iterative process of learning, failing, learning, failing, and then finally doing and succeeding.

Aaron Moncur:

And that is the quintessential process for engineering. Right?

Tommy Kronmark:

Absolutely

Aaron Moncur:

Try something. See how it works. Correct? Correct. Try it again. Correct. I love it. All right. Well, I'm going to take a very short break here and share with the listeners that teampipeline.us is where you can learn more about how we help medical device and other product engineering or manufacturing teams, develop turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines to characterize inspect, assemble, manufacture and perform verification testing on your devices. Today we're speaking with Tommy Kronmark. Tommy, you, you talk a lot about personal branding on LinkedIn, let's start with the basics. What does it even mean? To have a personal brand and why is it important for engineers to have one?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, so a brand, at its core really is like reputation right? If you think BMW you think a luxury foreign car if you think Volkswagen, you think safety right? That's, that's their brand. So personal brand is really about your personal reputation. And when I talk about personal branding, really I'm talking about your online, personal brand, your online reputation. And with branding, there's also a flavor of marketing in that as well. And And with that, I mean that you have some intense and you you have some power to shape, how your brand is built and how your brand is perceived. So you can essentially create your own personal brands and You can tell people what you want to be known for, right. And that's a great way to basically market yourself as an expert in X, Y, or Z.

Aaron Moncur:

So I'm going to pretend that I am just Joe engineer out there listening to the podcast right now. And I'm hearing Tommy talk about marketing and branding. And I'm thinking to myself, I went to school to become an engineer, not a marketing specialist. This all sounds really complicated to me, marketing and branding. That's like, the super creative side, the artistic side, I'm very analytical by the numbers. How, how does one? What response would you give to an engineer who's maybe having some of those thoughts?

Tommy Kronmark:

Well, I definitely resonate with that, I went to engineering school, and I did not go to business school. So it is a whole new world, a whole new language for me. But it's something that I've been able to explore and really get into the past year with, with a pandemic and staying at home. So I think you can actually take a lot of the same perspectives and engineering methodologies, to marketing and to business, but just sticking with marketing, right? There's, if you think in engineering, you want to build a prototype test to validate scale, right? You can sort of do that same thing in marketing, right? You can try a few different strategies, define a performance metric on how you're going to rate all of these strategies, and then really go in on whichever ones that work and really iterate and perfect your messaging. And eventually, you'll you'll end up with a product, which is your personal brand that's working, and it's working for you.

Aaron Moncur:

Are there any resources that you found like books or YouTube videos or anything like that, where an engineer who is interested in dipping their toe a little bit into that marketing branding pond might start?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, definitely, I really started reading a lot of books this past year, have an exhaustive list on my LinkedIn as well, actually. But some of the ones that stand out are the startup owners manual, which is, it's almost like a, like a computer repair book, or a car repair book, or how to start and run a business. So it talks about everything from marketing to business principles. But it's, it's in a way that it's almost like a troubleshooting guide. So that's, that's been a huge thing, I actually got the audio book for that one. And then halfway through the audio book, realize I want the physical copy as well. So I went back and got that and really started taking notes.

Aaron Moncur:

Nice.

Tommy Kronmark:

Besides that, I listened to a lot of podcasts really started to expand by, you know, my rather narrow engineering mindset and listening to a lot of business podcasts and marketing and understanding this idea of the customer, and, and the product and the product market fit and all of these things that really we're not exposed to as engineers. And, you know, maybe it might be a disservice, I think, I think all engineers should have some exposure to business and marketing principles.

Aaron Moncur:

I agree. In the end, we're all trying to sell our ideas. Right.

Tommy Kronmark:

Right.

Aaron Moncur:

Have you read Story Brand by Ronald or Donald Miller?

Tommy Kronmark:

I have not.

Aaron Moncur:

That's a great one. Highly recommended. Yeah, building a story brand. I can't remember exactly. But if you search story brand, and Donald Miller, you'll find it very popular one.

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, I'll be sure to add that to my list.

Aaron Moncur:

How about after you land your job? Is it is it important to maintain your personal branding? Even after you found that dream job?

Tommy Kronmark:

I would think so. You know, I don't think it's necessarily should be your number one priority. But I do think that you should keep your LinkedIn up to date. And I think you should let your network know what it is you're working on and what it is you want to be known for. I think that's that's a consistent thing that you should check in. At least every month, maybe every week, right?

Aaron Moncur:

Do you have any pro tips that you can share about A, how to find relevant jobs? B, get an interview and then C, close the deal, land the job from a marketing and branding the standpoint?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, definitely. Um, first and foremost, take some time to figure out what it is you're looking for really define as as specifically as you can, what you're looking for. But make sure to give yourself some wiggle room you don't want to lock yourself in. So that's that's the first thing right? After that, then you start your search, you do your research, you look on all of the job sites, you see which types of jobs, not the titles, but actual job descriptions, match up with what it is that you just defined the things that you're looking for, right? And, and you'll start to get a sense of these types of jobs at these types of companies match up with what I'm looking for, right? So then you take it a step farther, can you find anybody out there in the world that has those jobs, try to schedule an informational interview with them, see if you can pick their brain about what it is to, to be that person to to be in that role. And then you can even take it as far as ask them how they got there, right. You want to develop these relationships, learn as much as you can about the role, then you start networking, you start getting your foot in the door at these companies, that could just be as simple as reaching out on LinkedIn, it could be more targeted is finding emails or something like that. Once you've done that, the last thing you really want to do is, is apply to the job online, you really want to be like, really focused in and have a strong network presence and, and support for that job. And if you can get referrals as well. And that comes from building relationships. More so than just an empty referral. If you have, if you have a relationship with somebody who you've you've reached out to and you've been able to strengthen and build a relationship, that type of referral really gets you in the door.

Aaron Moncur:

And the the jobs, the jobs that you apply to and where you got interviews at. Were there. What did you do to get those interviews? Were you just applying online? Or was there was there anything more tactical that you were using as an approach?

Tommy Kronmark:

Well, definitely more tactical, I really did try and network with as many people at these companies as I could. And I would start with school alumni, are there any Cal Poly alumni at these companies? If there are, that's a great jumping point to, to connect and say like, 'Hey, I'm looking at this company, I'm curious if it's a right fit for me, would you have some time to tell me about your experience here, or how you got here, or if there's anything I need to know about the application or an interview process.' So that was the first step right is seeing if I can find some insiders who who would give me some insight, then I would expand that to other people that studied biomedical engineering, or other people from my hometown, or anything that I can find that might be a relevant or relevant way to build that connection to sort of spark a relationship there. Once I've done that, now, I'm known at a few different levels at this company. And a lot of companies have an internal referral program. So you can find whichever you know, person is closest to the role you're looking at, or whichever person you have the strongest relationship with. And a lot of times they'd be able to provide a referral. So that's actually how I got the job that I'm in now. And that's that's what I would recommend to others as well, if they can.

Aaron Moncur:

That's huge, right, that referral, I actually am doing that right now a friend of mine is looking for a job and the company at which he is applying. I know some people there. And so I contacted them and said, 'Hey, friend of mine is looking for a job, I think it'd be a good fit.' And turns out, they have that internal referral system as well. So they're doing the referral. And now you know, his name kind of floats to the top of the pile. So that's that's a huge one. I also wonder, Tommy, if you're going to end up as like a sales engineer at some point, because you're so good at networking and following up with these people. Even if you don't end up as a sales engineer, have you found that some of these skills around marketing and branding, personal branding, have you found that any of those skills have transferred maybe in ways that you didn't expect into your role as an engineer?

Tommy Kronmark:

Absolutely. So my my role, I communicate a lot with the other departments, and I communicate a lot with stakeholders at different levels of the company. So one thing that I've noticed that I've been really good at and I do credit it to this I exploration of business and marketing and, and understanding the customer. I really understand what's valuable to the different stakeholders, whether they're in different departments or different levels of the company, and being able to communicate what's valuable to them to them, right, and not not giving them the extra, you know, details or, or whatever, just what they care about. And that's been really effective. Just in general, like across the board

Aaron Moncur:

I have a another pro tip that I thought about I want to share, I use a CRM for the sales activities that I do, probably a third of my time is spent maybe even more than that is spent just doing sales. And I have no formal training in sales, I had to figure that out on my own. using trial and error, write, try something, see if it works, try something else. And I've gotten, I don't think I'm ever going to be a superstar salesperson, but I'm sufficiently proficient at it at this point. And I use the CRM, and it is such a valuable tool for me doing sales activities. And I think that finding a job is a lot like looking for sales opportunities. And if you can get free CRMs out there, they're there, like HubSpot and Zoho they have free versions of their CRM. CRM stands for customer relationship management, I think, anyway, it's a platform that you can enter in contact information, and you can create reminders and tasks for yourself to like, follow up with these people. And I have had so many people tell me, I can't believe how good you are at following up, no one follows up as well as you do. And it's so easy. It's just I follow the tasks in the CRM, you know, I create a task and it pops up and reminds me and I, I call a person and, and it's that easy. I was on the phone with a CEO the other day, and this guy, you know, he's a CEO, he said at the top of the company, and his background was in sales. And I sent him I think, nine meeting requests. And what here's, here's one of my pro tips. I'll share this with everyone what I want to get a meeting with someone, I don't email them and say, 'Hey, I'd like to meet with you. How about this time or this time or that time?' I don't even say I'd like to meet with you. Here's my here's my calendar link, click on it and go find a time that works. I send them an actual outlook meeting invite with a specific date and specific time. It's a little bit aggressive, and presumptuous. But I've had really great success doing that people accept that way more often than you would think. So anyway, I sent the CEO, nine outlook meeting requests or Outlook calendar invites. And he declined to all of them, or no, no, he didn't respond to any of them. But I was persistent. And that's the other thing that's so so important with marketing or sales is persistence. And so on. Attempt number 10. He actually called me and he said, 'I thought I was a good salesperson, you're 100 times better than I was.' So he had been getting all of these. And he absolutely knew who I was. And he finally called me and said, All right, yeah, let's talk. And I actually just spoke with him earlier this morning. And he's like, 'Yeah, I'm still interested. Let's, let's talk.' So anyway, that's my pro tip. Use a CRM, automate your your follow ups with people and be really, really persistent. You might think that no one is listening to you that they're never going to respond that they're just just disregarding you altogether. But if you're persistent, people will remember you. Absolutely.

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, that's a great story. I'll be sure to check out the CRM that might even make it into my job, job search guides, we'll see.

Aaron Moncur:

There you go. Yeah. All right. Tell me a little bit about biodiesel. Apparently you have been brewing it since you were 16 years old. I don't even really understand what biodiesel is. So maybe a quick primer on what the heck is biodiesel. How is it brewed? Can you use it in just any old diesel engine?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, so biodiesel is super cool. It's a passion I developed early on, actually at a high school teacher who had this morning club group that met before class. And they would take waste vegetable oil from the local roadside grill down the street. And we would turn it into biodiesel and sell it to vineyards and winery managers. And didn't really know a whole lot about the process back then, but really saw the value and thought it was Super cool. So I ended up learning a lot more about it in college and, and basically waste vegetable oil is a actually can be run as vegetable oil and diesel engines.

Aaron Moncur:

Wow

Tommy Kronmark:

More robust and older diesel engines will will gladly take it but a an oil molecule at its core is hydrocarbon chains, right? So A, they're all the classic vegetable oil molecule is three hydrocarbon chains connected to a soapy head. And so turning vegetable oil into biodiesel essentially just cuts off that. So he had and you're left with just the hydrocarbon chains, which is exactly what diesel is right? The only difference is the biodiesel typically is unsaturated, which means you'll have some cakes, and that can make the fluid a little bit more viscous. So biodiesel can actually be run in pretty much any diesel engine. Prior to I want to say the early 2000s. After that the automakers started really narrowing in on on engineering their engines specifically for your standard diesel. So if you want to a a new diesel engine to run on biodiesel, you might have to switch out some fuel lines or your fuel injectors, things that can handle basically a more viscous fluid and got to tweak the fuel air ratio a little bit as well.

Aaron Moncur:

What do you think that happened? What were they in cahoots with, you know, petroleum refineries or trying to exclude were there too many people that were trying to use biodiesel and someone was getting cut out of the process? Or? Or was it just this is a much more efficient method of building a diesel engine?

Tommy Kronmark:

I think it's the latter. I think they were able to extract better emissions and gas mileage out of the engines if they were more efficiently burning and using the fuel.

Aaron Moncur:

That makes sense. Okay. Then tell me about the process for for making diesel. How does that work? Biodiesel?

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, yeah. So it's a fairly simple process, actually, which is probably why we were able to do it at 16 in high school. But basically, you take your vegetable oil, and you want to heat it up. You're going to add methanol as your, essentially your chemical scissors, the cut off that soap you had from the hydrocarbon chains. And you're actually going to add sodium hydroxide as well, that acts as a catalyst to speed up the reaction. So when you add all of that, you're going to just mix it either circularly or however you mix the solution. At that point, you're going to have your biodiesel ready to go. But it's also going to be mixed in with sodium hydroxide and methanol and glycerol. So how do you separate that? Well, diesel, which was like, basically, oil doesn't mix with water, but methanol, glycerol, and sodium hydroxide, all mixed with water. So you can actually run water through the mix and the water will pull out all of the other byproducts. Oh, wow. And the diesel will float up to the top. That is very cool. Yeah. So it's a pretty simple process. But you do need a good understanding of some of the chemical reactions and flow control volume control, all of that stuff.

Aaron Moncur:

Neat. Well, how cool. All right, from Legos to biodiesel.

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah.

Aaron Moncur:

Tommy, thank you so much for hanging out today. How can people get a hold of you?

Tommy Kronmark:

Absolutely on LinkedIn, I'm on LinkedIn pretty much every single day. So follow, connect, shoot me a message and I'll be sure to get back to you. Especially if you are an engineering student, or if you know any engineering students. I'm happy to help them get their first job.

Aaron Moncur:

Fantastic. Well, Tom, thank you again. I really appreciate you sharing your experience with personal branding and marketing for engineers. It's awesome. Thanks again.

Tommy Kronmark:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Aaron Moncur:

I'm Aaron Moncur, founder of Pipeline Design, and Engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team's expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at teampipeline.us. Thanks for listening.