HOW DOES AN MIT NERD WITH A BACKGROUND IN RESEARCH END UP MAKING PRODUCTS?
Be different — be you. Growing up, I felt like I was like everyone else: sports with friends, staying late after school playing chess, summers at science camp, and an almost compulsive need to take everything in sight apart. Well, I realized I was different the time I took apart my friend's front door handle and his mom forced me to put it back together before I went home.
Research: my gateway to design. The summer I turned 15, everything changed during an internship in a neuro-imaging lab at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I got my first taste of cutting-edge technology and I couldn't get my fix doing anything else.
At MIT, I couldn't get enough of my MechE lab classes. Robotics projects were always fun, and I always found myself spending a little extra time ensuring my robot would be durable and aesthetic.
Early taste of start-up success. One summer, I interned at Whoop (employee #6), developing a wrist-worn heart rate monitor. I helped prototype the initial units and determine the functional parameters for the industrial designers. Whoop has become an enormous success (now $1.2B evaluation) and is worn religiously by stars like Lebron James as well as in the military. I thrived in a small team and will always crave that fast-paced, start-up environment.
Learning about design at scale. The next summer, I interned at Apple— what some might call a slightly larger company. I developed a concept for a diagnostic machine for iPhones and iPads and aided the setting up of an assembly line in Shanghai. I learned the value of diligent vendor liaison and the importance of communication within and between multi-disciplinary, multinational teams.
A record of professional achievement. After graduation, I wanted to get back to developing new, ground-breaking products and jumped at the opportunity to join a top product design firm, RKS Design. During my five years there, I soaked up as much knowledge, experience and skill as I could. I worked on countless products in dozens of industries, was listed on several patents, and have managed multiple projects through to manufacturing. What made me a great fit was the ability to stay open-minded and creative in the development phases while having the foresight to make sure every concept I proposed could be manufactured cost-effectively.
My open, empirical approach to the development process. Over the years, I have honed my approach to development in my own process. It expands on my experience and focuses on iterating prototypes with the user's experience always in mind. After enough times through the process, you see how design thinking really is an application of the scientific method. The main difference is that, in design, you must be able to feel comfortable with ambiguity and feed the process with new observations.
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