My journey has been a winding adventure through academic research, defense contractors, and product development. I believe having a broad range of experiences not only helps inform what you want to do in life, but also allows you to appreciate the skills and expertise of those around you. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you never know where the next big adventure is.
I work with an amazing group of engineers, designers, researchers, marketers, makers, and other doers to build products and services that help users get things done. It is exciting work that allows me to collaborate, innovate, learn, and solve problems. While it’s true that part of my job as a human factors engineer is to people watch (contextual inquiries), I also meet and interview a lot of people, build models, design usability studies, and crunch data. I’m an advocate for the end user and do everything I can to ensure products are safe, easy to use, and of course, get the job done correctly.
Learning new things is energizing and inspiring. Have you ever wondered how we have such a variety of fruits and vegetables? How slow is the heartbeat of a blue whale? Why is my “low maintenance” plant not growing? We live in a fascinating world and there is a never-ending list of things to explore. Let me know what you have learned recently.
Biking, hiking, running, swimming, kayaking, or moving in some way. You name it, and I’m up for trying it. I may not be able to keep up with you, but I rarely pass on the chance to get together with some friends and exercise. I also enjoy sitting and having interesting conversations with people, watching TV, instructional YouTube videos, or just observing the world around me. I enjoy learning about the people around me. So, if you have grand or even small plans for the weekend or a water resource plan for a hypothetical world with only salamanders, I’m more than happy to discuss those with you.
What is your first memory of design?
When I was young, my parents gave me a hammer and some nails. Nothing dangerous, just the small versions that would normally be used for building a birdhouse or something similar. One fateful morning, inspiration hit me as I was pondering the most pressing issues of adolescent life. I was going to build something “amazing.”
After a few seconds of careful planning, I set about my work. In full disclosure, to this day I have no idea where I found the materials for this project, but I would like to think that I was way ahead of my time in the reclaimed and live-edge wood trends of the modern world. Nevertheless, after much toil, I was ready to unveil my masterpiece. I prepared my parents for the grand reveal, opened the back door, and waited for the shock and awe of my artistic genius to set in. My mom spoke first and said, “Daniel, why are you being mean to the dog?” The dog? What did the dog have to do with my project?
Let me explain what my parents actually saw. The backdoor opened into a narrow hallway. Hypothetically, if a dog happened to be in the back yard while someone built a rather large art installation in that hallway, said installation would without a doubt be cutting off all access into and out of the backyard. I had successfully barricaded our dog who at this point was giving her best puppy dog eyes from the other side. I learned three important things that day: 1) Don’t be mean to the dog 2) Artistic differences 3) Function applies not only to the product itself, but also the context in which the product resides. Of course, as a child the moral was simpler and more specific. Don’t build abstract art furniture in the back hallway. That means the front hallway is okay, right?