Catherine Jameson | Loft LLC senior engineer
Loft LLC senior engineer Catherine Jameson joined the Providence-based company 2½ years ago. Her focus is on bringing a design concept to products that can be manufactured.
1. What drew you to Rhode Island and Loft that made it worth leaving a job as a mechanical engineer in California with a company with a national profile? I was interested in exploring a position at a design consulting firm, and Loft’s portfolio certainly impressed me! At Fitbit, I was able to learn from my team and see a large-scale consumer product come to life, from sketches to manufacturing. I wanted to take that knowledge and be able to take more of a leadership role and working in a smaller firm gave me that responsibility and opportunity to develop my engineering skills.
2. You graduated from Yale University with a degree in mechanical engineering. How important has that education and training, and the personal connections you made in college, been in your career development? The most important classes I took in college were project-based courses that focused on solving a problem with a team – they replicate most closely what I do as an engineer in product development.
3. What steps would you recommend for others who share your love for design but aren’t sure how to break into the field? I would say – build your communication skills: visual, oral and writing. Design is all about ideas, but you can’t share and nurture your ideas if no one knows what you’re talking about! Also, go ahead and reach out to someone who has the job you want, and see if they’d be willing to meet up for an informational interview. This can be a great way to start building your network.
4. What are the most important attributes needed to successfully blend engineering and design? It’s important to discern which questions to ask, when. Coming from an engineering background, engineers are often pegged as the “no” people: designers will share a new idea, and engineers will immediately analyze all the risks and potential issues with the design. It’s so important to analyze those risks, but in a way that is aware of the timing and context of the idea.
5. What’s your impression of the overall design community in Rhode Island and the support services available to early-career professionals? I was fortunate to be a part of the Design Forward RI Emerge program hosted by DESIGNxRI. The program is … geared towards early-career designers. It was wonderful to meet other young designers and create a community, even as we all had different fields.