We at Circle Optics are an eclectic group of interesting people who are deeply curious and want to make a difference through immersive experience. Meet Cody Hatch our Mechanical Engineer and graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology.
When did you first get a sense that you liked to build things?
In high school, I came very close to spending my junior and senior year at BOCES, the trade school. I shadowed for a few days in the mechanical, autobody and carpentry classes. It didn’t grab me the way I thought it might so I stayed with regular high school classes. I was able to take advanced placement classes and learned that I was particularly good with mathematics and statistics. I decided to become an engineer and was accepted in the mechanical engineering program at Rochester Institute of Technology. It was there I had my first project of taking a concept into a finished project. We actually got to manufacture hammers. It was the coolest thing to make a concept in digital space and get to experience it in physical space-making the intangible, tangible.
WHO HAS BEEN A SIGNIFICANT MENTOR IN YOUR CAREER?
My first REAL boss, Bob Podlena, at Navitar. He’s now the President of Tel-Tru Manufacturing. When I first started at Navitar I had zero experience with something called GD&T (Geometric Design & Tolerancing) so many of my first designs were ridiculous and would go back and forth between me and the reviewing engineer. Bob began paying attention to this dynamic. Finally, he had a heart to heart with me and said, “There is no rush. Take your time. Stop and think about what you are doing and pay more attention to detail.Go slow and make sure your steps are accounted for.” It was so impactful. Five phones later and to this day I have “ATTN TO DETAIL” on my phone home screen. The message ever present, the lesson engrained. I have grown as an engineer. I am not afraid to jump into new things and make mistakes. I actually believe we learn more from our mistakes than our success.
WHAT WERE YOUR EARLY INFLUENCES?
My parents were very young when they had me. My dad was 22 and my mom was 18. I spent the first two years of my life with my mom. Then when I was two years old my mom had to get a job to support our family. Luckily, my dad was the favorite grandchild of my great-grandmother and offered to watch me for free. My primary years between two and six years old were spent with her. At first, I was sad and missed my mom. The sadness came out in anger and resentment because I didn’t understand why I was spending so much time with her versus my own mother.
After the first few weeks, my sadness turned to curiosity and joy because my great-grandmother soon became my friend and her influence on me even today is profound. She taught me the alphabet at the age of three. She introduced me to her favorite magazine, which was National Geographic. Her favorite TV channel was Discovery. Now that I am older I have more appreciation for how intelligent she was and how important her reference materials were to my own mindset and my own values.
Born in 1914, her education was not a priority. She dropped out of school, like many at the time, to support her family. The Great Depression did not change her lifestyle because she was already poor and experienced no drop in quality of life. The insatiability of her curiosity outweighed any hunger she may have had. Looking back, I think she was wealthy in her sense of the world and her place within it. Reinforcing the value of education, being able to read was like oxygen and she made sure all of us were well read and interested in the world we were living in. There was never a question in her mind, I would go to college.
Reflecting on her influence on me, I remember actually feeling like I was on assignment as a National Geographic photographer as we would go on long walks in nearby woods.
Taking my innate curiosity and global perspectives forward, it makes perfect sense that I would be working at Circle Optics. We are explorers and creating technology to make experiences accessible through imaging. I am not sure how far away from this we are, but I envision being able to take people like my great-grandmother on virtual trips to visit places like the Amazon rainforest, Egypt or Brazil. Circle Optics envisions enabling the kind of virtual travel that would create a real time National Geographic immersion.