40+ Years of Experience In Every Product We Make

October 25, 2023

We celebrate this week as our resident Product Manager, Charlie Wardrop, marked his 40th anniversary of entering the field of engineering!

epipole spoke with one of its longest serving members of staff about their career, the milestones, the challenges, and the successes of a long and successful career in engineering:

epipole: So Charlie, how does it feel to be a 40 year Engineering Veteran? 

40 year? Wow… I don’t know where the time has gone!”

epipole: Well, tell us! Where has that 40 years been spent? 

“Well, OK let’s think…

  • 16 years in the defence industry, 4 years consulting and 20 years in medical device industry. In 3 multinationals and 6 startups (of which several have gone global!)
  • Designing and manufacturing 3 periscopes, 1 integrated thermal imager, an IR Line scanner and an IR Staring array, 1 Pilot Night Vision System, 3 airborne sights and a helmet mounted display, along with many design proposals and customer visits
  • Consulting work in engineering, building business plans and assessing markets for new products and finishing a sensor project for fire safety
  • Founding a university spin-out medical device start up and raising money for it. Installing an externally audited quality system, designing and making the product letting us start selling it in 6months.
  • Being sent out with sales teams to meet customers, gather marketing research and building proposals for new products and software as a Product Manager.
  • Helping design and make 4 scanning laser ophthalmoscopes, their patient alignment systems, manufacturing toolkits, a paediatric visual field test and 3 handheld retinal cameras plus a subcontract hardware design for a rail Company.

Which is a lot of excellent experiences over the years, in some amazing teams, and being involved in making some truly wonderful things – which is actually kind of amusing, especially considering the number of people who ‘explained’ to me over the years that Scotland was a ‘Services’ Country and hardware engineering was dying.

Even today, in a post Covid world, I continue to see phenomenal, high-growth Scottish Engineering Companies being started by some incredibly talented people, and a lot of them supported by backing from fine folk like Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Investment bank, and the Angel investment communities.”

epipole: So, given the opportunity to speak on the ‘official’ company properties, is there anything else you’d like to say about this incredible journey of yours? 

On a personal note, I would like to thank:

  • My wife, and my family, for all their incredible support and encouragement through all the Start-Up Company ‘rollercoasters’ over the years
  • The design draftsmen and optical fitters who took me up a very steep learning curve as a new graduate and instilled the optomechanical engineering skills I have used my entire career.
  • Everyone who employed me, funded the Companies I worked for and pushed my career forward over the years, especially Dr Craig Robertson.
  • The tremendous teams I have been a part of, especially my epipole colleagues.”

epipole: So, what about the next 40 years?

“Ha – Well, right now I want to see epipole continue to be the success it deserves to be in the next few years! We’ve gone from nothing more than an idea, to a prototype, and now, after years of hard work and development, we have our epiCam (epipole’s flagship handheld fundus camera) – we’re now taking images through my undilated eye, showing us the pathologies in the outer regions that we never imagined we’d be able to see with a handheld device!

I’m so excited at the response from the partner practices too, and I’m excited to see things continue!

So, to answer the question, for now the focus is on making this the best possible camera we can…”

epipole: And then…?

“Who knows, I may even squeeze in another start up before I retire!” 😊

Charlie has been with epipole for over seven years (at time of writing) and we look forward to many more years with our favourite Product Manager!

–        The epipole Team

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