Investing in Local Education

At SIGMADESIGN we believe in investing in the next generation of designers and engineers.  We have been fortunate to have opportunities to do this in a variety of ways.  Our engineers have volunteered their time to mentor high school students, guiding them in their robotic engineering efforts.  Our President Bill Huseby has spoken to design students in the college classroom.  We have partnered with WSU-V students in their senior design projects.  Several local design and engineering students have worked as interns during the summer, being exposed to what classroom concepts are like in the real world.  Our engineers and designers have volunteered their time in nConnect Speed Networking events, where students are allowed to pepper them with questions and learn what engineers and designers actually do.  In addition to all of this, we frequently host groups of students for tours of our unique firm.  They get to come down and hear the SIGMADESIGN story.  They get to walk through the design process, seeing how our talented team begins with a concept and takes it all the way through production.

Mark Schoening describes his design profession to a group of local high school students

Why do we do all of this?  We feel it is crucial that students are exposed to the real industry, to see how their education will actually play out.  This can prove to be not only inspiring but also helpful as they are deciding which specific discipline they want to jump into.  By sharing the SIGMADESIGN story and walking them through our design process, we are able to offer advice and insight to young people who are in the beginning stages of entering the design and engineering industry.

Below is a short interview with Zach Nye, a mechanical engineering student from University of Portland, who visited our Vancouver office last month.  We so enjoyed hosting his Mechanical Engineering Club and look forward to hosting similar groups again in the future.  After reading his interview, we’re confident you’ll want to come see us!

Why did you want to tour Sigma?

As you already know, I am serving as the president of the Mechanical Engineering Club at the University of Portland. Our mission is to bridge the gap between our engineering educations and the industries where they can be applied. I spearhead the effort to show students what “real world engineering is like.” This often means inviting in speakers from industry, and also going out to tour companies that are open to the idea. 

Bill came to speak for engineering professor Dr. Lulay’s “Engineering Design: Product Realization” class. I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and thought he was a fantastic speaker. He had a simple yet profound philosophy regarding how to do go about your work, and it inspired me to come see the company and truly experience what he was talking about. 

What did you see?

The tour did not disappoint. After sitting down with Bill and receiving his two cents of career advice, we got to see it all. We went through industrial design, engineering, the machine shop, the testing facilities, and the assembly and shipping area. It was exciting to see it all under one roof, everything from design to production and shipping. It was not a cubicle land, like many of the engineering offices I have seen. Sigma Design seemed like a very open and collaborative environment. 

Who did you meet?

We got a chance to meet people from every facet of the company. Though their jobs were very different, one thing they had in common is a passion for what they were doing at Sigma Design. They were all very positive and I cannot identify a single employee we saw who looked like they did not genuinely enjoy working there.

 Was anything about SIGMADESIGN particularly unique in your mind? What stood out to you?

The company culture really stood out to me. SIGMADESIGN seems to be more than just a workplace, but a community of people who care about their work and each other. Everyone works hard, but has fun doing it. That unique vibe is not something I have seen anywhere else.

Did you learn anything you hadn’t known before?

I learned that more than just fitness clubs and colleges can have indoor rock walls.

If you are a local teacher and have a group of students who would be interested in learning more about what a day in the life of an engineer or designer looks like, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We would love to host your group and share our passion with you. Your students will get to meet Industrial Designers, Mechanical/Electrical/Software Engineers, Machinists, and Lab/Test Technicians.  Please call to set up a tour – 360.693.2600.