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Reed Fansler

2017 Graduate
Major: Industrial Design
Minor: Anthropology

Reed Fansler

Hello! My name is Reed Fansler and I graduated from Purdue in May 2017 with a degree in Industrial Design and minor in Anthropology. Now I am a product designer at Microsoft working on “smart buildings” and “smart campuses.”

John Mulaney has a stand-up bit where he talks about a story that pops into his mind “two times per week.” I find myself feeling thankful for my Purdue experience at least “two times per week.” The people I met, the activities I was part of, and the classes that I was able to take continue to inform my professional and personal life in huge ways.

Growing up, I knew I wanted a career like my grandpa. He and my grandma built their own log cabin in southern Indiana, and my grandpa designed most of the living space, the furniture, and the fixtures himself. Before he retired, he worked at General Electric and always had foam mockups of refrigerators and other appliances scattered around his basement.

The funny thing is that my entire family referred to my grandpa as an “engineer.” For whatever reason, I never asked him directly what his title was at GE until after I had applied and accepted an offer from the College of Engineering. My senior year of high school, my grandpa took me on a tour of his old studio at GE, and it was at that point that I learned he was an Industrial Designer, not an engineer. Long story short, I toured Purdue’s ID studios and then switched my application to the College of Liberal Arts.

I am so thankful for the way that decision to come to Purdue for ID played out. My anthropology courses helped me understand how to study people, my hands-on industrial design courses taught me how to ideate solutions and create a product pitch, and finally the liberal arts core curriculum gave me the invaluable ability to team up with different disciplines and to move our ideas forward.

Outside of classes at Purdue, I was heavily involved with Boiler Gold Rush, Liberal Arts Leadership Council, and Old Masters, where I learned about vulnerability and organizing large groups of people. More importantly, I met a ton of fantastic friends, and we still get together for ski trips, homecoming football games where we beat Ohio State, and FaceTime hangouts.

I love the way Purdue taught me how to take complex academic topics and distill those into actionable learnings that I can use over and over. While I was in school, I was able to learn things I was interested in, to challenge myself with courses outside my immediate wheelhouse, and to graduate without debt. Now I have a career that I love in a company that values liberal arts thinking and constant learning. I directly attribute these things to my decision to join the College of Liberal Arts and the dedicated faculty and staff who deliver on the promise of Purdue.

My advice to prospective students is to think about the life and the career you want to have after graduation. I graduated not even three years ago, and I’ve already been a technical consultant, a designer, and now I’m working to combine my design role with a UX writing role. Careers are not linear. The ability to context switch during the day and to be competent in a variety of roles that interest you can pay dividends. The College of Liberal Arts has empowered me to do just that.

Secondly, I would think about the life you want to have before graduation. I wanted to learn about a lot of different, unrelated things, and I wanted to see as much of the university as possible. The breadth and depth of Industrial Design specifically, and liberal arts in general, allowed me to do exactly that.  

What kind of experience do you want to have? Whatever you choose, I am sure you will make the right decision or figure it out along the way. Figuring it out is half the adventure.  

Boiler Up!