Hilary Hoops - Product Designer and Electrical Engineer

Hilary Hoops

Product Designer and Electrical Engineer

I dream up and design fun interactive products/toys for the masses.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day includes: Creative meetings for dreaming up and talking about new product ideas. Research and design of products. Testing and playing with prototype samples of our products.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Coming up with the ideas and figuring out how to make them work in the real world is the best part. It starts with a lot of “What if…” scenarios, like: What if the dinner table was an air hockey table and I could score a goal with the mashed potatoes. Then I have to design the products of course….. it would take a whole lot of air to make the mashed potatoes float unfortunately. Design is like a puzzle. You get to know a lot about all the possible parts and now you have to find a way to put them together to make your idea a reality.

What is the least enjoyable part of your job?

Emails! And even these really aren’t that bad.

Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).

As a kid I went to lots of science camps including Lego robotics. I also tore apart all sorts of electronics and toys in attempts to see how they worked. During high school I focused on math and science classes but I always had a secondary interest in art. When it came time to choose a college I got the chance to tour a company that designed and manufactured toys. This helped me realize what I wanted to be and what skills those people had that brought them there. I went on to get an engineering degree focused on microcontrollers and programming. With all of this I did a bunch of fun projects at home. I always tried to come up with ideas that I had never seen before and that helped me out in some way large or small.

Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?

Touring the toy manufacture. I never thought about what I would actually do after school. A job title is not all there is to a job. The tour was eye opening, there is so much more to a real job than what is taught in school but at the same time all those things are very clearly based on the principals of science and math.

What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?

Find the job you want and take note of the education and experience requirements, find a way to get those.

My job is a balance of engineering/technology and creativity. I choose to focus my schooling on engineering and taught myself the creative aspects. Math and Science may be tough but they help you look at the world around you and see everything is a system, all the parts can work in different ways and you are going to influence those parts. The more you understand them the more control you’ll have over your world.

How does your job make a difference?

Our products help people relate to one another on a different level. We create fun product that make people of all ages curious how they work.

How do you use science, math and technology in your job?

In order bring an idea to reality I have to examine every aspect. Maybe this product will be stomped on and needs to be made of a strong material but still weigh under 5 lbs, maybe I need to make sure the product will run for days on some AA batteries. All of these things present both a technical and creative challenge. I can’t know everything but science and technology classes has taught me how to accurately estimate or find out.

Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?

Not a course, but I wish I had participated in the robotics club. Robotics is both fun and helps you understand a lot of skills like teamwork (yes engineers have to work with others sometimes :/) and gives you a board idea of all sorts of fun parts and gizmos many of which are in devices all around you already.

What makes this job right for you?

I love my job because it is a balance of technical challenges and creativity. It is also a great balance of hand-ons and mental work.

What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?

We do all sorts of silly things to test prototypes. Usually it involves dropping, shaking and generally abusing the product as much as we humanly can.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I build silly unmarketable gadgets, I read a lot of fiction, and I try as many new things as possible (it brings me inspiration).

You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?

Buy all the tools/toys! CNC machines! Laser cutters! 3D printers! Piles of electronic sensors and parts! Unfortunately, building stuff can be an expensive hobby, much can be done for cheap but something the super duper cool stuff needs more expensive toys.

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit http://www.explorecuriocity.org/careers.

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