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In the spring of 2012 I was renting shop space from Make-SHift ATX, a design and prototyping space in North Austin. When I first started my studies in design I didn't really know where to start but I do know that I learn best in a hands on enviroment. Make-SHift provided me the space and oppertunity to work out a number of ideas and projects while helping me gain a beter understanding of process.

http://www.makeshiftatx.com/
When I started at Make-SHift the first material I worked with was plywood. This made sense to me coming from an engineering background as I see plywood as more of an engineered material. Pictured here is the first piece I completed, a kitchen table.
Completed kitchen table, finished and sealed.
Following the completion of my kitchen table I worked on a series of stools and benches. The table I designed ended up using a large amount of glue and nails, and ended up being quite hard to move. In response to this I designed these stools to fit together using only compression, no glue or fasteners. They also dissemble for easy transport.
In the summer of 2012, while I was working for Philips I used my vacation time to take part in the Howest Industrial Design Center's Creative Prototyping Summer School in Kortrijk, Belgium.

http://www.howest.be/summerschool2012/
An intensive week long program focused on a variety of prototyping and manufacturing techniques. We worked with a number of methods including foam modeling (pictured), clay modeling, wood turning, welding, and thermoforming.
The program also looked at newer digital techniques including rapid prototyping, laser cutting, and arduino electronics (pictured). Throughout the program we were encouraged to work with a variety of new materials and to push our boundaries in a collaborative environment.
While I learned a great deal from the program's curriculum, What I really gained from traveling to Belgium was an opportunity to work with a wide range makers and creatives, some of whom will be life long friends and hopefully in the future co-creators.
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Personal Growth

While my schooling and work has been in engineering, over the last year or so I've been increasingly interested in design. I spend my free time and energy in the pursuit of skills that will make me a better designer. A lot of this consists of reading and working on small projects. Some of the topics I've been interested include manufacturing techniques and materials, biomimicry, generative design, and digital fabrication, among others. Contained in the following slides are some of the projects I've worked on and experiences I've gained.

Jacob Rader
Design Engineer Austin, TX