I became a designer to solve problems.
In design, I saw the opportunity to help, but also, combine all of my skills and interests. At The University of Idaho, the Virtual Technology and Design program combined business, art, technology, calculus, physics and psychology. The bigger and more ambiguous the problem the better. I learned how to understand and model complex systems. During my time there I teamed up with engineers to design better education systems for traffic intersections, with jazz musicians and educators to build an interactive mind map of jazz styles and influences and Basque historians to track the diaspora from Bilbao, Spain to Boise, Idaho.
After finishing my Bachelor of Science, I found that Design wasn't being given a seat at the table. I lacked the business knowledge to translate my problem solving skills to helping reframe the problems my client was facing. My clients felt that it was design's job to make things pretty, not to determine true cause of a problem.
I needed more tools for my toolbox.
I found Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design when I began looking for graduate programs based on the combination of design and business. IIT's Institute of Design is known for their systemic, human-centered design methods. During my time at the Institute of Design, I took classes from the Stuart School of Business, but found more progressive business methods in my design coursework. The combination of adjunct professors, full-time faculty, design PhDs, international students with nontraditional backgrounds and client sponsored classes created an excellent environment to explore how design can impact business.
I've worked with Motorola, Artemide, Capital One, Neiman Marcus, Choose Chicago, Doblin, Chicago Community Trust, Gary Comer Youth Center, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Haworth, Northwestern University and Rush University.
During the summer, I teamed up with the head of IIT's Institute of Design, Stan Ruecker, and was published on hardware peripherals for text analysis. The following summer I worked for a design and technology firm in Holland, Michigan, Twisthink. I conducted research across the country with the founder, and worked closely with our clients as we synthesized our findings and prototyped solutions.
This work pushed my boundaries with ambiguity, scale and my own capabilities. The best work I do, is when I extend beyond my comfort zone and take risk.