MSA Industrial Design Co-Op

Summer 2019
Duration: 3 months

“In the summer months, I worked under the supervision of the lead industrial designer who is embedded in the fall protection team but also oversees other product development initiatives in parallel. I was involved in multiple projects which ranged from design of key components to strategizing for the entire company’s product roadmap. I was provided with the freedom to pursue and explore new ideas, brainstorming with both the engineering, marketing and sales teams, and then presenting the most compelling concepts to the new product development teams to further test and develop - this experience exposed me to the careful thought that goes into every decision that is made when designing products on which people’s lives rely. There was also work with analysing competitive products, direct building and testing of prototypes and concepts which will be implemented in future products. Also, I got to see the multiple hats an industrial designer must wear as a member of a billion dollar global company..”

I worked with the Industrial Design team, and was embedded in the Fall Protection division of the company. The projects were under the New Product Development (NPD) Program.

Visual Communication and Information Design
A visual communication based system was proposed to improve the usability of one of the key components in a system. This was a pure design challenge as mathematical relationships had to be represented visually in a limited space while also being easily visible, understandable and language agnostic. (Patent in progress) With a user centered approach, the concepts were tested and validated.

Soft Goods Design
Worked on creating an event-deployable component within the above mentioned system, using human factors evaluation and soft goods prototyping (both low and high fidelity) for concept development. Leveraged competitive benchmarking and the Corporate Style Guide to define and refine the visual aspect of the design.

Part and Mechanism Design
The above mentioned component also worked in tandem with another key element that greatly affected the size and compactness of the system. Participated with a team of engineers and designers in weekly sprints and brainstorming sessions where radical mounting ideas and layouts were explored. A design was finalized and tested using a 3D printed prototype This prototype was tested and evaluated with existing system components to validate this new design against other ideas and ensure a cohesive brand message.

Also, worked on early stage conceptualization and rapid prototyping of mounting and alignment solutions for fixed gas detectors. These early stage concepts were proposed to a global New Product Development team.

Research - Human Factors
The event-deployable component design was validated quickly with a human factors study but also made us aware of the pros and cons of each setup conceptualized.

For the gas-detector mounts, the entire method of operation and set-up of fixed gas detector models was observed and studied, senior engineers were interviewed for the most common user experience feedback they received.

The Two-Man Design Team
Assisted the lead designer with: field-research/interview questions, Assets for digital prototypes for future projects. Brainstorming with concerned groups for both major and minor design decisions to the product line. proposing a design strategy for unifying design language across the company. This was presented to the senior management of the company towards the end of the co-op.

Apart from this, I also accompanied the team on a visit to a renowned thermoforming company near Pittsburgh to evaluate this production method for a new product under development. We observed the scale of operations and the materials and mold-sizes they work with. I was also included in meetings with external industrial design firms, for prototyping and such requirements.