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March 10, 2016

Ryan Spoering: Surface enables creativity and innovation from anywhere

What is not to love about a guy who names his parents as his heroes? Ryan Spoering is a Surface fan who uses his device to take his clients’ dreams from concept to reality.

He’s a tinkerer, scientist, engineer and designer who believes in the power of problem solving. His company Lab Machinist Solutions is a consulting, design and prototyping service for research labs. Being able to sit down with his clients onsite and run the intensive CAD software program Solid Edge on his Surface has changed the way that he works and enabled greater creativity and innovation.

Teaching at Harvard while tinkering on the side

Ryan grew up in western Colorado and has a BS from Colorado State and a PHD in Chemistry from Harvard. He taught organic chemistry at Harvard for 10 years. Ryan describes organic chemistry as “the art and science of building complex molecules in the lab from simple starting materials”. Pretty amazing stuff.

Although Ryan was studying and teaching chemistry he always had a fascination with how things work and was always pulling things apart and then putting them back together: gadgets, cars, computers, then later in life got deeper into machining and CAD. Although he is not a formally trained engineer he is a self-described shade tree mechanic and tinkerer for as long as he can remember, all the way back to erector sets, Legos and sawing and filing chunks of metal in a bench vise as a little kid.

Ryan Spoering using his Surface at a lab.

Starting a business that draws from his studies, teaching and outside interests

Due to his natural curiosity and ability to solve complex problems Ryan was often working on side projects outside of work to assist other scientists and this eventually transformed into a real life business. Lab Machinist Solutions provides consulting, design and prototyping services to solve all kinds of research problems, mostly for clients that do not have in-house CAD or machine shop capabilities. Ryan uses his unique background and set of skills to bring these concepts to life.

Ryan describes his design philosophy as the relentless search for simplicity: “My designs tend to subscribe to a “form follows function” aesthetic and a relentless search for simplicity.  I combine stages of intuition and analysis in defining the problem completely, then looking for the solution with the essential elements.  I prototype most of my own projects so I tend to design for manufacturability within the capabilities of my own shop.”

Surface running Solid Edge allows Ryan to work from anywhere

Ryan spends a lot of time travelling to meet clients and away from his workshop. Surface and Solid Edge enables Ryan to do CAD design from anywhere and that means that Ryan is able to show clients in real time how their projects are progressing. Surface is powerful enough to do all of the complex rendering that is required in Solid Edge, which has completely transformed the way that Ryan works.

Ryan Spering working on his Surface.

“Using Surface Pro 4 to work with my clients has completely changed the way that I work. It’s so powerful and I love that I can use the full capabilities of Solid Edge. I love this thing. I’ve never used anything else that really has changed the way that I work, it’s amazing.”

Surface has replaced a chalkboard and writing pads and has inspired Ryan to take up drawing again

Ryan has always preferred handwriting for keeping notes and communicating his ideas without having any barriers. When he was teaching he still chose to use a blackboard because he loved writing so much. He has been so impressed by the Surface and it’s writing and drawing capabilities: “I have consumed countless legal pads, and I taught all of my organic chemistry courses on a chalkboard.  The Surface is the first device that I felt like I could write, sketch and design on like a pad of paper, added to the complete capabilities of a notebook computer.”

Ryan Sporing sketching on his Surface.

We are so impressed by people like Ryan who are using Surface to really push the boundaries of what and where Surface can be used. We love the inspiration that Ryan brings to his work and how he enables his clients to turn their dreams into reality. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Matt Chapman
Surface Product Marketing