For thirteen years, Emerson Tool Company has teamed with Auburn University to bring the Emerson Design Studio to the university’s graduate students in Industrial Design, providing the students with real-world experience designing for an international Fortune 500 company. As a collaborative partnership, the program spawns new product concepts for the Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions division of brands. Jason Hill, Vice President of Engineering at Emerson Tool Company explains, “Generally, the students start with various methods of market research, ideate a multitude of concepts, and then, with Emerson mentoring, refine select concepts and present them for formal review and judging.”
This program has also proved beneficial for Emerson, as many talented Auburn graduates have gone on to work for the company after participating in the program. Hill says, “Emerson finds great value in the program in its offering of new and often commercialized product solutions. Also, as is obvious from our hiring history, it has been an excellent recruiting tool.”
Read below to learn more about some of the Auburn grads behind Emerson’s recent design innovations.
Name: David Goggans
Where are you from?: Montgomery, Alabama.
How many years have you worked for Emerson?: I have been working for Emerson a little over two months.
What made you want to design products for Emerson? Emerson has a lot of resources to do things that other companies cannot. The people that work at Emerson are very smart. It is nice to work with people that are extremely intelligent and knowledgeable in other areas.
What most inspires you to create? Inspiration comes from different places depending on the project. Project specific inspiration can come from a combination of ideas, from nature, from a guitar, from architecture, from anything really. There’s inspiration involving aesthetics as well as function. It is important to have an understanding of what else is out there, whether it is closely related products or other applicable things. Good design meets needs, solves problems, and looks awesome or at least looks like it should given the product functions or market. Really, being in a creative role just gives me something to think about; I get to use my brain in a lot of different ways and entertain lots of ideas and decide which ones are worth pursuing. I enjoy the challenge in design, the artistic side, the scientific side, and the business side. I enjoy getting lost in the process. It’s extremely satisfying when you think of something, and you sketch it, and you refine it, and you make it, and then it exists and it was what you intended it to be. But, that satisfaction is extremely fleeting, and truly new ideas are extremely rare. I think there’s this want to be recognized and appreciated and remembered, this want to do something that’s significant. But really, I just need to be doing something creative in the present to be somewhat fulfilled. If I’m not in the process of creating something, I just feel very off.
Favorite thing to doodle?: I like to doodle cartoons with exaggerated characteristics and expressions. I also enjoy sketching furniture including ceiling fans, so it is pretty awesome that I can do that as part of my job.
Name: Bethany Pirtle
Where are you from?: Louisville, KY, but I’ve been in St. Louis for 8 years, so I guess I’m a St. Louisan now.
How many years have you worked for Emerson?: 8
What made you want to design products for Emerson? I was a part of the Industrial Design Studio at Auburn University sponsored by Emerson. Our project was to design an ‘air moving device’. I really enjoyed the project because of the home décor aspect and ended up interning with Emerson that summer and was offered a position after graduation. Any job offer is a great job offer when you’re coming out of school, but I had no idea I’d end up being here for so long. Emerson is a great company and I have loved participating in the product design and new product development aspects of the business. Being a part of meeting the customers who use and enjoy your designs is a great feeling.
What most inspires you to create? I am a very aesthetically sensitive person by nature. Beauty in forms, nature and graphics inspire me every day. To be able to create a design that makes others happy is the ultimate success and continues the cycle of inspiration.
Favorite thing to doodle?: Funny cartoon faces, but I’m not that good at it J
Ceiling fans designed by Bethany: Carrera Grande, Braddock, Premium, Curva, Curva Sky, Tilo, Bella, Camden, Batalie Breeze, Prima, Monaco, Summerhaven, Prima Snugger, Avant Eco, Cabrillo Cove, Copa Breeze
Name: Alex J. Wall
Where are you from?: Atlanta, GA
How many years have you worked for Emerson?: 2
What made you want to design products for Emerson? After participating in the Emerson sponsored studio with Auburn University and working with the engineering and marketing department through that experience allowed me to respect the design intent and execution that Emerson displays throughout its products.
What most inspires you to create? The drive to create well designed physical products from sketch to production that functions well while at the same time making someone’s life easier or more enjoyable.
Favorite thing to doodle?: Sunglasses/Eyewear