Shop Talk Podcast Episode 2: Xyla Foxlin on What Defines a Good Engineer 

Muna Idriss Muna Idriss October 6, 2023

2 min read

Welcome to Shop Talk, a podcast where we catch up with designers and makers live from their workshops. In this episode, designer and Autodesker Jonathan Odom speaks with Xyla Foxlin.  

Xyla Foxlin is a mechatronics engineer by trade but is influenced by her passion for the arts and working with her hands. A self-described “speedy jet with a broken compass,” her YouTube channel is a compelling mix of complex engineering projects and forthright content about herself as a person. We spoke with her about her process, her dream projects, and why the hand drill is the foundation of all tools.  

Below is a short excerpt from the conversation to give you a taste of what to expect. You can also listen to the full episode below: 

This excerpt is edited for brevity and clarity. 

If you have something in mind that you want to make, and you know it involves certain processes like CNC machining and 3D printing, how do you figure out the pieces you need to make a final project?

I’m really good at finding people who are experts in their field. I’m a very people-oriented person, and I learn things much faster if there’s a person explaining something to me. When I started my channel, I still lived in the city where I went to college, so I had access to a really good network of people with a wide array of skills. Then I got a little more established and I moved to Los Angeles, but I still have the internet and a lot of really cool networks of people I’ve met through my job.  

Also, I’m not afraid to ask questions. I think, particularly for young people, it can be really hard [to do that] because we have a lot to prove. There are a lot of people who question us. But I think it’s really important to ask the right people the right questions. And I’m always listening. And I like surrounding myself with people who are so much smarter than me at literally everything.  

I was having a quasi-argument with someone at one point: what defines a good engineer? They said, “A great engineer comes up with all these designs by themselves. They’re super brilliant, and really good at math and science.” And I was like, “No, a really good engineer is someone who can look at a problem, go talk to an expert in every single field that is tangential to that problem, filter all of that information by deciphering what is good and what is not useful, and then put all of those things together into a solution.” And I think the reality is both people in that situation are good engineers.  

Stay tuned for the next episode of Shop Talk. Be sure to subscribe on YouTube and get your audio-only fix on Spotify.

Get Fusion updates in your inbox

By clicking subscribe, I agree to receive the Fusion newsletter and acknowledge the Autodesk Privacy Statement.