intern product designer perspective

From Stanford to SGW: An Intern Product Designer Perspective

Hi, I’m Kenzie Roan — Boise born and raised, a Product Design student at Stanford University, and SGW Designworks’ summer “Intern Product Designer.”

Coming into my summer internship at SGW I was excited to dig in and apply the principles I learned in school to real products. My time at SGW Designworks shed light on the day-to-day operations of bringing ideas to life. 

Early in the summer I was asked to help with the visual rebranding of a client company — to do some industrial design, renders, and logo exploration, none of which I had done before.  Working with one of the engineers here, Blake Pachner, I learned how to use Keyshot to produce high-quality renders — and before long I was presenting my ideas to the head of the client company. Having never used rendering software before, I was excited by the power of this new tool in communicating various aspects of design, from form to texture and material.

In one of my university courses, “Product Design Methods,” we discussed human factors and understanding human capabilities and limits in product and system design. In class, we were asked to complete a hierarchical task analysis for a simple task from our lives. I did not recognize the utility of this tool as I was writing out each progressively more insignificant sub-task involved in brewing a cup of coffee. This summer, however, charged with reimagining the UI of a product we were developing, I found new use in the material I learned at school. 

My impression of the tools I had used, but not appreciated, at school changed completely as I was able to implement them in an effective way. Versions of this happened throughout the summer as I was able to meaningfully apply ideas and concepts I learned at school to projects at SGW.

As SGW’s intern product designer, I had the opportunity to help with a project from concept development through prototype iteration to produce a final prototype. Though I have experience with concept development and prototyping, I had never worked directly with a client to realize their vision. Though the product was constantly evolving, through communication and collaboration we made something the client was proud of.   

I was surprised by the range of projects that SGW Designworks takes on. From large company partners to individual local entrepreneurs, we approach problems that involve many different tools and technologies and required unique approaches. Over the course of the summer, I did field testing of hardware and firmware prototypes, spent hours working on the sewing machine, 3D-printed jigs for a large robotic machine and much more. The team here is relatively small, but between them they are capable of addressing a huge range of problems. 

I had a great summer here as an intern product designer and learned a lot. I am so grateful to everyone here for making me feel so welcome.