Michael Laine has led product engineering teams for more than three decades. Over the course of the past two years, he has mentored numerous Gordon Fellow Candidates studying various engineering disciplines. Michael Laine is uniquely qualified to mentor a diverse group of Gordon Fellow Candidates because of his breadth of knowledge and experience which he has acquired throughout his career, serving in numerous leadership roles in a variety of engineering disciplines in a multitude of industries.
Laine’s career has evolved over decades through opportunity, passion, and curiosity for new technology and going to market. “I am a degreed chemist and I’ve always liked the mechanical stuff, but I chose to go into a chemical engineering position after college and I got exposure to a field that was all about product engineering. I made a decision that I wanted to become a product development engineer with a degree in chemistry.” Laine worked in the semiconductor and computer industry for thirteen years where he worked as an engineer in various roles including research and development, and manufacturing and product management. “During that time in my career, I had the opportunity to explore two engineering management tracks: electrical/semiconductor engineering and computer-aided software engineering.” As a software team manager, he spun out a data analytics based new venture targeted at improving the manufacturing yield in the microelectronics industry. Laine’s career pivoted again when he was recruited to join a medical device startup. “I was tempted because I love innovation and I had no experience with medical devices so I became the manufacturing Vice President for Operations.” In total, Laine has experience in large corporations and early-stage companies covering more than ten engineering fields making him an ideal seasoned professional to mentor young engineers.
Laine’s relationship with Northeastern University first began in 1985 while working on a highly visible “midnight project” that needed talent. “We knew how good the Northeastern co-op was thus we quickly approached NU and launched our relationship.” He describes his first experience with Northeastern students as “the most fruitful program during that time in my career.” More than thirty years later Laine has continued and evolved his relationship with Northeastern serving not only as a Gordon Mentor but on various committees and projects at the University. “It’s been an honor to be asked to come here because I have the highest regard for Northeastern and the students that I’ve worked with for the past thirty-plus years. To be affiliated with a leadership Institute is core to what I have practiced and shared over the years. It has been a gratifying and rewarding experience because I have seen so much growth and development in the students.”
Gordon Fellow candidates who have the privilege of receiving Laine’s mentorship have the advantage of receiving advice and guidance from a broadly experienced engineer with decades of diversified industry experience. Laine’s impact on The Gordon Institute adds immense value to each of his mentees’ experiences because of his ability to connect across disciplines with pointed insight.
Laine explains that he continues his involvement year after year because he finds the relationship with his mentees to be reciprocal. “One of the things I get out of my work with the Gordon Institute is staying contemporary. If I can transfer knowledge that I have, I’m honored to do that, I get gratification from that. At my core, I like to work on these engineering projects that serve a purpose, a socially responsible purpose, and I think Millennials today are wired in that direction and I’ve believed in that for a long time. I’ve gotten a lot out of being a Gordon Mentor because I’ve had the opportunity to better myself.”
Social responsibly and ethical engineering is a core value Laine incorporates into all of his career endeavors. He believes in creating a better world through responsible leadership and he believes engineers are largely responsible for accomplishing this task. “For a company to be successful in getting their products out, there has to be someone who is leading. Engineers have a tremendous amount of responsibility and having a leader or a group of leaders is vital for success. Not knowing how to communicate will slow down the progress in an incredibly competitive environment. Every engineering company needs engineers to lead their teams and projects to successful completion.”