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Meet Paul Way

Q. What experiences led to your current role at Donaldson?

I had been working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, moving through different divisions as part of a leadership development program. Eventually, I became a physicist in the division that set on-road vehicle standards and Tier 4 standards for off-road vehicles, regulations that drove a lot of Donaldson product requirements, so there already was a connection, but I didn’t know it at the time. When my family and I moved back to Minnesota, I received a call from Donaldson. My first job here was in the Exhaust and Emission business, where much of my knowledge of EPA testing requirements was directly transferrable.


Q.  What technologies do you work with in your job?

Today, my responsibilities fall into three buckets:

  1. My team manages the global infrastructure and tool sets for simulation and high performance computing. We also have scientists and software developers who write our version of big data and analytical tools. These tools merge physical models and test data into an enterprise software deployment that helps design engineers find the right products for our customers.

  2. Our team also builds global laboratory capabilities. Right now, we are finalizing an air filtration test lab in Brazil. This function is an interesting mix of technology and execution for global locations.

  3. The third area is technology delivery or determining how to put Donaldson’s cool ideas into actual products we can sell. Engineers in this group make prototypes and models, essentially taking an idea far enough so a business can evaluate it.

We look at bookending a product or technology. There is simulation on the front end followed by prototyping and validation on the back end. In between, there has to be a learning cycle. To accelerate technology development, we close the loop by bringing knowledge gained from prototyping and validation back to product design.


Q.  How would you define innovation?

To me, innovation is the joining of ideas and execution. People don’t usually sit alone in a lab or office and simply innovate. Instead, they recognize the idea and find a way to turn it into something real. Oftentimes, we have to look in retrospect to know if something has been innovative.


Q.  What would it surprise others to know about you?

In the era of digital music, I’m a vinyl fan and have an extensive record collection. I enjoy all kinds of music and restore old turntables.