Faculty of Applied Science & Technology
Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Year of graduation: 1995
Daniel Goodland is a bit like a magician who conjures coins from behind children’s ears, revealing tiny, delightful surprises. But his creations aren’t based on spells. They’re wonders of science – sleek, pod-like hearing aids, about the size of a blueberry, that lie discreetly tucked behind the ear and have a huge impact on people’s lives. Goodland designs hearing aids for Unitron in Kitchener, Ontario.
This past spring, two hearing aids Goodland worked on received awards from the internationally-renowned Red Dot organization, which recognizes the best in product design; judges evaluate how well something functions, and how good it looks. They’re given out annually by the German-based organization that acts as an online resource for designers of products ranging from cars to dentistry tools. One of the products, Moxi™ Now, was awarded top prize in its category. The Red Dot jury named it “Best of the Best” for top design quality and ground-breaking design. Only 102 products from over 5,000 entries received the designation, other recipients included the Ferrari J50 and the Apple AirPod. Goodland worked on the design of Moxi Now, a tiny hearing aid with a sound receiver so small it can lie in the ear canal. Stride™ M, another hearing aid design Goodland worked on, also won a product design award. Goodland works on the team that lays out the parts within the hearing aid, making sure microphones and antennas will fit inside the tiny device, work effectively, look good and be comfortable to wear.
Goodland says the awards are satisfying for everyone on his team because of the number of hours that go into crafting something so tiny. He says creating berry-sized products make his job more challenging because he’s always shaving the product down by the width of a human hair to meet the consumer demand to make it as lightweight and discreet as possible.
“It’s not enough just to be small, it has to work well,” he explains, adding they also work on tight deadlines to get the devices ready for tradeshows where audiologists get their first peek at the product. That means he spends many hours with metal and plastic under the microscope, looking at how to make the parts smaller and lighter. He says Sheridan’s education helped prepare them for that work by exposing him to real-world tools.
“We would go to the machine shop and physically make castings,” he says of his time at the Davis Campus in Brampton. “It was a good foundation.”
After graduation, Goodland jumped right into his career, landing a job at a lumber company where he completed his co-op placement. Then, looking for a change, he found work with military design firms in the United States, working on data management to ensure teams were following the proper design processes for new projects like tanks. While he enjoyed the work, the travel was difficult with a young family. In the early 2000s, He found himself back in Ontario, working on vehicle-mounted computers before landing at Unitron in 2012. While the hearing aid sector may not be as high-profile as combat equipment, he relishes the opportunity to work on projects that make a difference in people’s lives.
“When you actually see someone wearing the hearing aid … it’s extremely satisfying. When you see people who never really heard well and then they wear it for the first time and they say ‘it’s amazing,’ it’s very moving,” he says.