Assistant professor in the School of Industrial and Graphic Design
College of Architecture, Design and Construction
Lauren Weigel earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Auburn. During graduate school, she was part of an industry collaborative studio, which gives industrial design students the opportunity to work with companies in the development of new products. The company she worked with, Generac, located in Waukesha, Wisconsin, offered her an internship and then a full-time position as their first industrial designer. Two years later, she became the retail product management analyst responsible for the portable generator product line. She also taught part time at the Art Institute of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where she found a passion for teaching. In fall 2013, she returned to Auburn as an assistant professor in the Industrial Design program to pursue teaching full time. Her professional interests are user-centered design, design thinking, the integration of design and business and socially conscious design. Her personal interests include running and being outdoors.
1. Why did you choose to study industrial design at Auburn?
I actually started my academic career at Parsons School of Design in New York City, where I majored in fashion design. Then I transferred to Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where I found that fashion design was too subjective. I wanted something a little more structured so I started looking into a number of different majors and decided on architecture. I knew Auburn has a great architecture program, and I was looking to transfer to a university. When I got to Auburn, I had an academic advisor who looked at the number of design credits on my transcript and suggested I consider industrial design. At the time, I didn't know what industrial design was. I started researching it, and I realized it had the perfect combination of creativity and problem solving I was looking for.
2. What did you enjoy about working at Generac?
As the first industrial designer hired by the company, I had the opportunity to get involved in some really interesting research projects. The company was growing a lot when I was there, so it was an exciting time to work on a lot of new products. We went out into the field and talked to consumers and users to identify their problems, and then we used that information to develop new product ideas.
Now, I am teaching a fourth-year studio that is collaborating with Generac. The students are getting to work with them on some exciting product challenges. I really am enjoying teaching the collaborative studio because I think the students really benefit from interacting with companies and clients before they graduate. At the end of this semester the class is going to Milwaukee to present their product solutions to Generac.
3. What do you love about industrial design?
The most exciting thing to me is the creative problem-solving process. I think the research and creative problem-solving process that designers follow is the key to innovative ideas and products. Many new ideas and opportunities are identified in the initial discovery phase. In the studio I'm teaching now, the students broke up into three research teams. They had the chance to go out and talk to product users, store associates and service people about the product they are redesigning. The insights they have come back with are very exciting.
4. You said you are a runner. Do you participate in any marathons?
Yes! I've done several marathons. It's on my goal list to run another one this year, but I've run in five in the past. I ran my first full marathon when I was in Los Angeles and then in Las Vegas, Chicago, Milwaukee and Jackson, Mississippi. The last one I ran was a half marathon in Wisconsin. I hope to run at least another half marathon this year. I haven't done one here in Alabama yet.
5. What makes Auburn special to you?
I would say that Auburn is special because it seems that no matter where you go you run into Auburn alums. The Auburn family is so extensive and always welcoming.