Chuck Lacompte, manager of new product development engineering at YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. Snap and Button Products, has been working at YKK 36 years. His love for sketching/drawing and working on anything mechanical led him to pursue a career in engineering. “I always thought the engineering hand drawings were a form of artwork. Through my technical training, I enjoyed drafting on the drawing board (for the younger generation, that does not include a mouse and keyboard) and the progression from applying my ideas (whether good or bad) to paper, then from tooling, and ultimately solving a problem or producing a working product.”
We asked Chuck to tell us about his latest inventions and to share his advice for the younger generation.
Tell us about one of your inventions for which you received the 2020 Patent Award:
One of them is called the “Illuminated Marker.” It’s a method to apply illumination to an automotive Isofix marker for child seat restraint systems.
What problems did this invention solve?
At night when the car door is open, the Illuminated Marker helps identify the exact location of the Isofix bracket, which is hidden in the crease between the back and lower seat cushions. Also, this product can be used as secondary safety installation feature. The Isofix can be wired with a method to be illuminated a red color to identify the location, and when the Isofix latch has made an acceptable contact with the bracket, then the color will change to green.
What is new about this invention?
The method to attach the Isofix marker and transmit the light through the attachment members and distribute the light source.
What is your favorite part of being an engineer?
Technology changes every day, and there is never an idea that can’t be improved. YKK encourages pursuing new patents that can strengthen market share.
“Technology changes every day, and there is never an idea that can’t be improved.”
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in your professional career? How have you been able to overcome them?
I have had many challenges through my YKK career, “educated by the school of hard knocks” as my father would say, and working for YKK has opened opportunities for international travel and focused training in several management and mechanical areas. The large network of technical people within the YKK North and Central America region and global organization strengthens us by working as a diversified team. If you are not a specialist in a specific project area, I am confident there will be a YKK associate who is, and is willing to help to achieve a solution.
What is your advice for young people interested in your field?
Never fear failure, learn from your mistakes! Find a field of study that sparks your interest and challenges you. Think outside the box, don’t become stale minded, and find a company that fuels your creativity and allows you to travel and see a variety of culture and technology.
“Never fear failure, learn from your mistakes! Find a field of study that sparks your interest and challenges you.”