Interaction Design Program

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Bob Bao

Ford Motors, Research and Innovation Center

User Interaction Designer

After working as an industrial designer in Beijing and Hong Kong, Bob Bao realized that interaction design was playing a larger role in his projects. He discovered CCS’s graduate program in interaction design and headed to Detroit. By the time he graduated, Bao had earned multiple scholarships and received awards for Best Thesis and Excellence in Graduate Studies.

“I quickly learned that the best innovative solutions for the industrial design projects didn’t necessarily involve creating physical products; instead, it was often centered around designing meaningful digital experiences,” said Bao, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial and product design from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University before attending CCS. “I saw great benefit in exploring interaction design strategies and developing new skillsets to make me a hybrid designer.”

Bao was recently hired as a user interaction designer for Ford Motors Research and Innovation Center. In this position, he works with researchers and engineers to create guides for visual designers and developers who make and implement interfaces in Ford’s vehicles.

“My job is to envision the best communication experience between drivers (or passengers) and future Ford vehicles in every possible scenario,” said Bao. “While the quality of the user experience is my major duty, the people I work with must consider safety concerns, regulations and other factors. So I need to be well versed in these areas as well. Working through the details can be a long process, but it makes the product super strong.

“I enjoy challenging my imagination every day and bringing these ideas to life with my colleagues. Most of our work will be reflected in Ford’s future products. Since most of the projects have been more long term, there has been plenty of time to generate and test some great ideas.”

While Bao was pursuing his graduate degree, he gained experience as an intern at Pocketsquare Design, a Royal Oak-based studio that focuses on automotive user experiences.

“At CCS, I gained the confidence to work in an ambiguous environment, manage complex projects independently and function as part of a team."

“My internship at Pocketsquare gave me a more thorough understanding of the intersection where the automotive industry meets user experience design. Since the partners and designers at Pocketsquare are experienced veterans in the automotive industry, their feedback on my work was extremely valuable.”

Bao has two pieces of advice for designers eager to break into the field of interaction design.

“Don’t hesitate to keep a project going, even when you are not confident about the direction,” he said. “I find that it’s often during the deeper exploration of a project that great ideas come along.

“Second, as a designer you can benefit from other activities. For example, I’ve found that video games have been an excellent test ground for new technologies and a great platform to explore my imagination.”

To check out Bao’s work, visit http://bbaodesign.net.