Product Designer Finds Engineers’ Playground in Wisconsin
This passion took Phillips to MIT, where she learned about product design, and from there to a designer position for the nation’s largest cordless power tool supplier, Milwaukee Tool.
Her time at the Wisconsin-based company began with a month-long internship during her freshman Independent Activities Period (IAP) under MIT’s Micro Internship Program, where she was able to gain valuable experience working directly with and for MIT alumni.
“I worked in the advanced engineering group and worked on the development of an accessory for a power trade tool that was aimed, as our products tend to be, to improve the efficiency of a common task repeated throughout the day for electricians,” says Phillips. , who earned her undergraduate degree in Course 2-A, a customizable mechanical engineering track that gave her a deep dive into product design.
The best part of the January 2020 micro-internship, she says, is that she came away with a prototype in hand: “The process of creating the prototype started with putting myself in the shoes of the users, experiencing what they are currently doing on site and what are the weak points of this process. »
“I love the feeling I get when I first hold something I’ve designed or made in my hands. That’s a big part of why I became an engineer.
Rosalie Phillips ’21
Once Phillips understood what success would look like, she started thinking about how to get there. “After selecting my best concept, I started iterating and problem-solving,” she says. “Milwaukee has great on-site rapid prototyping resources, and I was able to design a concept and have a high-fidelity 3D print in hand a day or two later to test everything from access to ergonomics to It was an amazing hands-on experience surrounded by all the prototype resources you could ask for – definitely an engineer’s playground.
The success of the IAP internship motivated Phillips to sign up for a full internship at Milwaukee Tool in the summer of 2020, when she was able to work on a prototype woodworking power tool. This was closely followed by a full-time job offer. She started in September 2021. One thing that attracted her to the company was the structure of the product design cycle and the fact that each person owned a project rather than contributing to several larger projects.
“I love the feeling I get when I first hold something I’ve designed or made in my hands. It’s a big part of why I became an engineer,” Phillips says. I’m amazed that I was able to bring something from my brain to the world, excited to test it, curious if it’s going to break and already ready to do the next one.”
The Graduate Advantage
The notion of IAP internship is not new. The MIT Alumni Association started the MIT Student/Alumni Externship Program in 1997 as a way for alumni to host student interns during the January term. It was renamed the Micro Internship Program after being revamped following the transition to MIT’s Career Counseling and Professional Development (CAPD) in 2020. The program still encourages MIT alumni to host undergraduate and postgraduate students. graduates in their companies, although students now also have the option of applying for non-graduate-hosted positions.