Peter Carlotto is so passionate about working with his hands and building things that he has a workshop in his own backyard, which makes his new position as engineer-in-residence at Fogarty Innovation feel just like home.
A background in cars provides the perfect pivot to medtech
As a former BMW and Nissan mechanic, Peter initially aimed to own his own shop, but instead decided to get into car racing, which he has done for 30 years. That experience gave him a solid understanding of the importance of federal regulations as they related to the automotive industry, which allowed him to pivot to fabricating and maintaining the cars.
He got his first taste of medical technology through a college friend who was working for one of Dr. Fogarty’s startups, Microline Surgical, a company dedicated to delivering precision instruments for minimally invasive surgery. It turned out that the initial troubleshooting they were doing with the wiring was very similar to the type of engineering work he was doing as a lead car mechanic, and he joined the company full time. “I’m a very hands-on kind of person, and I really enjoyed going from the ‘napkin’ design to market, improving through all the iterations to develop a product and get it to the end users,” said Peter.
He stayed there for 12 years until the company was eventually sold, and then began working as a consultant. One day he stumbled upon an article about Fogarty Innovation (FI), which caught his eye since he had met Dr. Fogarty while at Microline.
His interest piqued, he toured the facility and met the Terumo Medical Innovation team, which resides at FI, and joined their team as an R&D engineering consultant. While there he parlayed his expertise in maintaining equipment into a position overseeing Fogarty Innovation’s machine shop, which turned into a full-time job in 2021.
“Thanks to my extensive experience with Microline, I am well-equipped to help with design activities, as well as make parts or prototypes for the startups. I love the opportunity to work on so many different technologies,” he says.
Peter also trains the Lefteroff interns on how to program and run select machines, an inside look at yet another component of medtech design which they really enjoy.
Finding his passion early
Peter grew up in Sunnyvale, California, where he raced mini bikes through the fruit orchards, soon graduating to dirt bikes. He eventually turned to cars after spending many of his years in high school helping his fellow students address issues with their vehicles. This affinity for identifying and solving automotive problems led him to the De Anza College Auto Technology program, where he excelled at troubleshooting and helped lead the school’s participation in state and national competitions.
He attributes his passion for tinkering to his family, with several of his uncles and cousins holding careers as mechanics or welders. Moving to car racing was a natural progression since it makes use of his interest and expertise in maintenance and fabrication. And of course, he now utilizes those skills for helping the medical device entrepreneurs at Fogarty Innovation where he focuses on improving each prototype or part he builds.
Today Peter has three racing cars of his own, and he also enjoys camping and boat camping, which always involves bringing along a race car or dirt bike behind the motor home.