Where Are They Now? Product Design Class of 2018

April 22, 2019

In May 2018, the College of Design’s Product Design Program graduated its inaugural class of undergraduate students.

With graduation once again upon us, we caught up with members of the first class to find out what they are up to now, how the program has impacted their lives, and what the future holds for them.

Ingrid Carroll – Technical Designer, Target

My experience in the Product Design Program is one I’ll never forget. After transferring schools, I was glad to finally find a place where I felt comfortable growing my design skills. The positivity and encouragement that came from other students in the major created an inspiring design community for me to succeed. As for the future, I hope to keep evolving my design skills and stay involved with the U to see how the program continues to grow.

Peyton Garcia – UX Designer, Q-BA-MAZE Inc.

The Product Design Program helped me perfectly blend my interests in art and engineering, while also helping me discover my passion for usability design, in an exciting and fun environment. Now, as a UX designer, I have the opportunity to use all the interests and skills I had growing up for real-world applications. The program was the exact thing I needed to become sure of myself and sure of what I wanted to do with my life.

Benjamin Krause – Footwear Intern, Timberland

I loved my time in the program, although that may have been just as much to do with the people and the opportunity to be creative as it was the classes themselves. I really appreciated the emphasis on understanding your user and their needs, rather than simply making beautiful product solutions. With Barry’s mechanical engineering background, there is a thread of pragmatism that runs through the program that has helped me transition from designing as a student to designing in a professional setting. Being confident in working with my hands and understanding how to make something has also been invaluable—in particular the focus on making functional prototypes as opposed to just ‘looks-like’ models. My hope is to continue in the footwear industry – potentially getting into performance running shoes – and I look forward to the day where I get to see my shoes in the wild or lace up a pair that I myself designed.

Benjamin Leibham – Contract Product Designer, Summit Prototyping & Design

I loved the Product Design Program and am so grateful to be a part of its inaugural class. The best part of the program, to me, was that the professors often allowed us to tailor the projects in class to our individual interests. For example, I was very interested in outdoor products and soft goods, and that flexibility allowed me really lay the foundation of what I am doing currently. I live in Boulder, Colorado working as a freelance designer for my business, Summit Prototyping & Design LLC, where I focus on soft good design and prototyping. Since graduation, I have had the opportunity to work with companies from all over the U.S. and even internationally. I also sell my own hiking backpacks.

Miranda Meier – Hybrid Designer for Furniture, Target

The product design program gave me, more than anything, valuable peer communication skills. The collaborative nature of the program created the ideal environment to learn how to give and receive critique in a way that allows for important growth. Critique made me confident in my ability to defend my work and has translated into skills that are a valuable asset in my job every day. I am so grateful to the program for allowing me to stumble and fall and learn from mistakes in order to find my strengths and weaknesses within the process. In the future, I hope to continue to grow as a designer and refine my process!

Sarah Prescott – UX Designer, Epic Systems

I didn’t come into college planning to major in design. I also had no idea I’d be a part of an inaugural class of product design majors. But I couldn’t be happier with my education. With a tight-knit group of designers, we really pushed each other to try harder and be better. That experience, of using passion to drive our designs, is what I’d say helped me the most in my job hunt. I am currently a user experience designer at Epic Systems, where I get to use my passion for design on healthcare software. I think the best advice I have for any upcoming graduates and/or incoming students, is to find something you’re passionate about. If you’re going to spend 40+ hours a week working on something, you might as well love what you do!

Jimmy Rafter – Production Assistant, Sisyphus Industries

I joined the Product Design Program after completing the College of Design’s B.D.A. degree in an effort to gain more insight into product development, manufacturing, and prototyping. I was particularly drawn to the program for the interdisciplinary, collaborative courses, as well as for the opportunity to take a more hands-on approach to the design process. Currently, I’m working full time for a startup company in Northeast Minneapolis called Sisyphus Industries. We make kinetic art for consumer purchase, primarily robotic coffee and end tables that draw designs in a sand field under a glass top. Because it is a small startup, I’ve been able to take on several roles in the company. I do a lot of production management and product development, as well as playing an integral roll in designing the manufacturing and production processes. Besides providing me with the technical skills and design knowledge needed for the job, the product design program prepared me to work closely and communicate effectively on a multidisciplinary team of artists, engineers, designers, programmers, and marketers.

On Friday, May 11 the inaugural class of product design seniors will present their capstone projects. This first class of students is the result of seven years of hard work by College of Design faculty and staff, in particular, Associate Professor Barry Kudrowitz who is head of the Product Design program. Kudrowitz reflects on the journey the program has taken in this interview.

Ten years since it launched and one name change later, Toy Product Design (now Product Innovation Lab or iLab) remains one of product design's most popular courses.

If there is one thing students in Toy Product Design know, it’s how to play hard and work even harder. All semester long, they’ve been creating the next big thing in toy design and on May 3rd all of that hard work will pay off when they present their final products at PLAYsentations.