1. What was your major at RISD?
Short answer: Industrial Design
Long answer: I transferred to RISD into Architecture, switched to a double major with Industrial Design and Printmaking briefly and then ultimately graduated with a BFA just in Industrial Design.
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2. How did you connect to the working world? (what have you done before and since graduation? Internships, jobs, networking, online resources?)
In my last semester of RISD (I completed my course load in December 2012) I took a studio with Professor Andy Law. The class was essentially concerned with service design but it gave me my first taste of UI / UX. I wasn’t very adept at any 3D modeling software so I decided to quickly create a few UI projects for my portfolio and hoped that I could find some work in that field. Thanks to a reference by a friend I was able to find work at a company in Boston just a week after I finished RISD. Connections there led me to other small consulting gigs and overtime I was able to build up a real UI portfolio. Building up my LinkedIn profile helped to some degree in attracting headhunters but overall, as everyone knows at RISD, your portfolio should be your number one focus. Ultimately this all led me to Philips Design Healthcare. I work as an Interaction Designer on interfaces for patient monitoring software and various other healthcare applications.
3. How well do you think RISD prepared you for the working world and do you have any suggested improvements for your former department at RISD?
Often times I wonder what it is exactly that I got from my RISD education. I don’t practice work with 3D forms nor do I use much of the software at work that I worked with during school. I think RISD prepared me for the worst though- no workplace after RISD has been even a tenth as trying or stressful. The long nights in studio, the amount of thought that went into projects, all of these things and more have contributed to making my work that much simpler.
The critical thinking skills and the strong work ethic developed at RISD in addition to the expectation to learn quickly by doing, have made adapting to workplaces from startups to the corporate environment, fairly easy.
That said, I wish the Industrial Design department was more forward thinking. RISD does things in a very analog and old school way. It’s great to really understand the tried and true practices in the industry but it’s also really important to completely understand the new and transformed industry grads will enter into. More of an emphasis on technology and design could really round the department out. Many recent grads will end up in some off shoot of interaction design, whether they had intended to or not. It would be helpful for RISD to realize that and make sure students are prepared.
4. What would you advise undergrads to do now to be best prepared later on?
Take as many classes as you can in other departments. Have your focus but round yourself out and be the best all around designer you can be.
5. Is your current job what you imagined you would be doing?
In terms of making products that help people- yes. I definitely wanted to work in a sector of design that improves the quality of life for consumers.
5. Share any other part of your story.
From the get-go I was eager to get into fabrication. Having spent many years away from working on physical products, I was very excited by the opportunity to return to this work at Design that matters. This internship was a great chance to use many different prototyping methods — from CNC mold making, to laser cutting and 3D printing custom hardware — to develop our alpha Otter.
DtM has long been in my sights as a place I would love to work. While finishing my degree in industrial design, I felt quite anxious at the thought of working on phone cases or other plastic trinkets. DtM’s work is a solid example of what it means to truly listen to what users are asking for, and designing in such a way that anyone anywhere would be proud to own the product. I have always felt that we all deserve products that we are proud to own, no matter our socioeconomic status. We can’t simply expect the poor to be okay with a product because they can’t afford anything else. Everyone has a sense of pride about the things they wear, the objects they use, and the places they inhabit. DtM truly understands this.
In three years’ time I hope to be back in graduate school, earning a multi-disciplinary degree in design, engineering, and business. Working on this collaborative team has really demonstrated the value of having a strong grasp on engineering principles in product design to maximize efficiency and create something truly robust. I know I will take these learnings forward and incorporate them in the next products that I have the chance to work on.
I will be starting graduate school at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) in January of 2015. My ultimate goal is to work at a consultancy and do work in the developing world…maybe teach at a university at some point too…This is the first step to achieving those goals.
Also, on the side I’m doing design work for a startup (Averta Biomics) that makes anti-inflammatory medication. Currently we’re in a few pharmacies but we’ll be expanding pretty quickly.