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Doug Walker

Inventor / Industrial Designer
California, USA

What is your official title and what do you do for a living?

My title is Industrial Designer.  I help individuals or corporations turn their ideas into market-ready products.  The design process usually starts with me interviewing the client to get the basic requirements of project.  I will then go and do a number of conceptual sketches, present them to the client, and then do a final round of refined drawings.  One solution is picked from this group, engineering layouts are done and a working prototype is built.

What kinds of things have you invented?  What are some of the patents you hold?

My latest design that I have partial patents on is the "Clorox™ Ready Mop™" you might have seen in stores.  I also have designed a lot of medical devices such as ventilators and heart rate monitors.

Of all of the things you have invented, what has been your favorite invention so far?

I liked the "bagel slicer" I did for Ginsu Knife™ Co.  It ended up being sold by the Sharper Image Co.  The general public does not see most of my designs unless they are in a hospital environment, so it was nice to have my product in a store.

What education was required to get a position in this field?  Do you have to have special skills or talents to excel in this field?

I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Design.  I had to take a lot of physics and engineering classes as well as 120 art class units.  An Industrial Designer needs to have the ability to "push the limits" as he defines the particular product he is working on.  Progressive trends in our culture are regularly set by product designers.

What type of a student were you in elementary and high school?  What types of things did you enjoy doing as a young boy?

I was a pretty average student.  I spent a lot of time drawing cartoons on my Pee-Chee folder.  I do remember when it came time to build a model of a California Mission, I really got into it, including the illustrations in the report.  I liked tangible things, hated spelling bees.

What were your favorite subjects in school?

I liked Geography, especially when it came time to do the reports.  I would build models of a country's natural resources(corn stocks and cows) and mount them on an accurate topographical model.

What subjects were the most difficult for you?

Probably spelling in the early grades was the most difficult subject for me.  I think there is in nature a spelling/grammar gene that I didn't inherit.  I have compensated for it recently by using a new program called "spell check".

What extracurricular activities did you participate in during your grade school and high school years?

In my grade school years I was involved in painting the sets for school plays.  In high school I was in cross country(the only sport for a skinny kid) and also became a member of the chorus in the school musicals.

When you were a young boy, what did you want to grow up to be?  Did you have any role models that you wanted to be like?  Did you accomplish any of those boyhood dreams?

When I was a young boy my idol was St. Francis of Assisi, which meant I would roam the world in a frock with birds landing on me.  I also admired painters like Michelangelo doing large frescos.  But my engineering influence from my father combined with my artistic ability directed me into my career as an industrial designer.  I feel I have achieved my life's goals except that now the birds come around when I'm jogging.

What education path did you pursue towards your degree in Industrial Design?

When I first started college I was unaware that product designers even existed.  I thought engineers created everything.  I initially majored in advertising, but when I took a required applied design class I quickly changed my major to Industrial Design.

Do you travel as a result of your job?

I do some traveling in my business, mostly in California where most our clients are.  Most of our customers speak English, and if they don't there is always an interpreter available.

Is there anything that you have not done yet, that you would love to have (or have had) the opportunity to try?

I don't think I would change my career but I wish I had been a little more observant of the cultural and social issues affecting people.  I think everyone should develop a "world view", developing a consistent way of evaluating issues based on a personal ethics base.  There are too many kids running around that don't believe in standards for personal or global behavior.

Do you have any favorite inspirational quotes you would like to share with the students who are reading this interview?

"There are only two types of people in the world, the decent and the indecent."

This is a quote from a man whose whole family was killed in concentration camps in Nazi Germany, but he survived.  Understanding this concept relating to human nature can only motivate a person to a responsibility to be happy and good through his life.

What words of advice do you have for students around the world (particularly those students who do not have a good idea of what they want to do in the future)?

Everyone will need to have a job as an adult.  This job should be a career in doing something that you would do anyway, because you like it!  It could be writing, painting, nursing, gardening.  As long as one stays alert to what is interesting and fulfilling, and not be afraid to experiment, life's goal will eventually make itself clear.  Try to do your best in school.  If anything, it will help you develop the discipline skills necessary when you discover your calling.

- 29 November 2003


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Last Updated:
29 November 2003

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