Lorenzo Spreafico

Lorenzo Spreafico

What is the name of the company you worked for and what do they do?

The company is called USONO, it's a Dutch start-up and they develop smart ultrasound solutions. More specifically, they develop innovative uses of ultrasound technology in medical and sports applications. Their motto is to ease, improve and innovate the use of ultrasound. They are focused on the medical and sports sectors at the moment. 

What is your role within the company?

My role is Product Design Intern. I have been developing a product on my own since the beginning of this experience, with supervision from the CTO of the company, and help from other designers and biomedical engineers in the company. Moreover, I have been helping on the other projects that Usono has been working on during my months here. As a product design intern I get to experience multiple aspects of my job, from CAD, 3D printing and scanning, prototyping, reiterative user testing, IP, and more. With the company I have also participated in interesting workshops and events (Medica in Dusseldorf, IP, QA and Rhino+Grasshoppers trainings).

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

I start at 9 AM and finish at 5PM although because of the start-up nature of the company, these times are flexible. The philosophy is to make sure all the work needed is completed: sometimes this requires to work overtime, and sometimes it means the days are shorter than a standard 9-5 schedule. During the day I mostly work in the office with 4-5 other co-workers, including the founders of the company and other interns. My tasks vary widely depending on the day and on the period (from computer-work, to calling potential end-users, to mold making, and more). At times, we had to travel for work to other cities in the Netherlands, mostly to meet end-users or customers.

What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

 I think I was extremely lucky in having the chance to develop my own product: I'm glad I had this opportunity, it means a lot of responsibility but also a great chance to learn how to develop a product for the real world. I get involved in many interesting projects apart from this, all related to the products that the company is developing.

The whole design iteration of concept making, sketching, modelling, printing and prototyping is extremely interesting for me. I am particularly enjoying the fact that I get to work in the sector that most fascinates me (Medical Design) and getting a useful insight on technological topics that I would not have learnt at University, while still training most of the things I learnt throughout my first two years of Product Design. Interaction with the doctors and hospitals is extremely interesting and truly gives the work a real world perspective, which definitely makes it more challenging but also more satisfying.

As soon as my placement started I was made the main designer of a small side project, which was very challenging and interesting at the same time. Moreover, the future seems bright as I will get to collaborate on the main project of the company which will involve both aspects of Product Design which I am more used to, and new topics such as ultrasound imaging technology and programming. 

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

To learn more about the industry world and how to develop a product in industry, which turned out to be very different from working on University projects. I think it's an invaluable experience. Moreover, I did it because it's practically useful when applying for jobs after University, and also for the personal experience of getting away from University and trying something different.

What do you feel you will get out of this experience?

On a professional level I think I have learned a lot of new skills and improved the ones that I already had thanks to University. I learned how to develop a product in the Industry, the time it takes, the workflow, the regulations needed. I learned how to communicate with end-users and conduct user tests. Overall a greater understanding on my job as a product designer, a real world feeling of what it means to be a product designer, and a lot of human and technical skills.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

I personally advise to try and find a job that really suits your interests: I think it makes the experience even more useful. I would also advise to try and travel abroad: it gives a chance for a change in perspective and a great personal experience too.