Working in the Defense Industry via ID

What’s up everyone. I’ve been thinking about making a transition into the defense industry. I was wondering if anyone on here has any experience or insights they could share on the topic. What are the interviews like? What kind of projects should your portfolio feature? Thanks.

Having a hard time envisioning how ID is applicable to the defense industry. What types of job are you looking for? Skillsets that these jobs require?

It’s a very difficult question to answer. Typical defense contractors usually don’t employ ID and if they do it tends to be more in the form of human factors engineering experts.

We were a government contractor back while I was at Motorola and many defense projects were entirely managed by teams that were off the grid from typical product development. Projects like Radios were often standard products used for police and fire that were retrofitted for specific defense requirements (which were more about technology like encryption than designs).

I’ve yet in 15 years come across a defense specific job description.

I’ve actually met quite a few industrial designers working for defense contractors. Met a few at the IDSA national last year and I met a guy in San Diego who posts on these boards sometimes. Long ago I worked on some safety glasses for the military. The biggest problem they had with the existing ones where that they were so ugly that soldiers just wouldn’t wear them… as soon as their CO’s where out of site they took them off. Also, I follow this guy on Twitter:

Ive worked quite a bit with DoD companies for ID needs. Specifically head-mounted systems. Work involves heavily around user experience and ergonomics. Surprisingly all the military work i’ve done they have been very interested in the design of the product, they want good looking stuff. Many operators are wearing sports brands into combat since they perform better and look better. It would be good to look at companies marginally related to design; Magpul, james brand, oakley, nike, etc. Much of the form languages I often rely on come from similar companies. Rugged aesthetics are king, knowing about machining and different alloys, knowledge of mil-spec finishes, knowledge of webbing, nylons, carbon fiber will all be helpful in my experience. You’ll design super cool things that you can never show anyone.

Like others mentioned ergos and human factors are still kings. Look at military body shapes and understand how they impact design. Also, the china head study done by hong kong university was useful to me.In-depth design research skills are helpful

When I did my masters 15 years ago several degree projects came from DoD (UK). I only remember heavily customised boots or some sort of 3D-printed footwear…

I also know IDs worked on APC interiors. Others who worked on helmets, uniforms and various carrying-related widgets.

Crye Precision, started by an industrial designer, manufactures a lot of their goods in a warehouse in Brooklyn.

There have been some Microsoft job postings for HoloLens military applications.

You could narrow your search some. “The defense industry” could mean billions of different things.

Thanks for the replies, most of the stuff I’ve seen is for design engineers. I figured someone on here had some experience.

Have had multiple projects in this industry for many years.
My intake:
The Defense market is heavily regulated by MIL-SPEC. requirements, specifically around usability/Ergonomics and operational considerations. Many clients, although opened for using ID, aren’t really aware of how to combine it in their development process, which makes it hard to be an effective part of the process. I’ve found this market to be more and more opened to ID in recent years, but it help if you have previous experience in the field (i.e : a combat soldier/ pilot etc.), as some scenarios are hard to imagine the context in which the product would be used without prior experience. To give you a good example there was a great article on the process in which Crye precision (At the time just Crye associates…) Discovered when developing the rather revolutionary rig for infantry soldiers on iD magazine a couple of years ago. (You can access the article by clicking the large, multi view pics of the male model wearing the prototype in various angles here: FFW Archives - Soldier Systems Daily)

If you have more questions you can PM me.

In any case- Good luck!

Nice find on that article!
I did a little bit of work on the headgear system circa 2002.

Thank you for sharing this!

I actually had an ID internship for a defense company. They didn’t have enough work for a full time ID guy, but enough for an internship. I ended up working on some push-to-talk radio buttons and a military geared phone among other things. A lot of ergonomics and user testing involved.