Junior product design major Pradyuman Kodavatiganti spends most of his time working in his studio, creating products for the aerospace industry. When he is not in his studio, he is working as an resident assistant in Millennium Hall, encouraging his residents to explore the opportunities Drexel University has to offer.
The Triangle: Outside of your major, what else have you been doing on Drexel University’s campus?
Pradyuman Kodavatiganti: I am an RA as well. I live in Millennium Hall on the 4th floor. I interact with residents and I help them out with their freshman year as they transition from their high school experience into Drexel, and give them resources so that they’re successful for the rest of their time here. I am also very active in our orchestra. Most people don’t know this but Drexel has a pretty good orchestra. We’re playing a concert this fall, so I do a lot of that outside. I also do photography in my own spare time. But other than that, most of my time is spent in my studio.
TT: How long have you been an RA?
PK: Since my sophomore year, so this is my third year.
TT: What made you want to become an RA in the first place?
PK: My freshman year, I had a really great experience with my RA. I struggled a lot with figuring out who I was and self-identity and a variety of different things that everybody goes through. My RA did a really good job in making my home — like my room, my floor and Millennium — feel like a place where I was happy to come home to, and I genuinely enjoyed being there. I made certain mistakes with my major and pursuing career paths and things like that, and I just wanted to give back. I want to give that experience to other people and have them feel comfortable knowing that you can make changes in your time here at Drexel and still be able to graduate on time while still having that wonderful experience that this school has to offer.
TT: What kind of experience do you want your residences to have at Drexel?
PK: I want them to explore a lot. Drexel gets a bad reputation — like everybody talks about the Drexel Shaft and things like that. That being said, I do think that the school has a lot to offer in terms of just genuine information and course load. Like if you have an interest in something, someone somewhere on this campus does something related to it — whether there’s a professor who teaches a course on it or there are students who have a club. I think it’s important that students go out and explore because that’s the only way you can really find your passion. And you never know, if that leads to a major change, I’d say, go for it. If you really care about it, you’ll be successful in it. I just want them to go out and explore more.
TT: Why did you want to become a product design major?
PK: I started off in chemistry and I did that for a year, but I didn’t like it. I couldn’t see myself pursuing a career in chemistry or medicine because I was pre-med as well. I switched to chemical engineering and again, I couldn’t see myself in a career as an engineer. I liked the school, I liked the program — both the programs were really good — and I met a lot of really great people, but I just couldn’t see myself doing it. I did a lot of artsy stuff in high school, like I was in orchestra. I used to draw. I used to sketch. I used to paint. I kind of missed that element in college, and so I did a lot of research. I looked at all the programs that Drexel had to offer, and I found product design, and I found that there was a really nice balance between engineering, physics and math along with the art and the science and the making. It’s a really great thing where you can do both and make something really cool at the end of the day.
TT: How long have you been designing products?
PK: I started in this program the summer of 2015.
TT: What kind of products have you made so far?
PK: We try and touch upon a lot of different things. The program is pretty generic in its approach. The first product I ever had to make was a whisk that was designed for a very specific user, but I crashed-and-burned and definitely failed there. And then I had a task of making a $7 object so we had to design and manufacture and sell this product which we made into a headphone wrapper. That had mild success if not mostly failure. But, those were kind of the first things I made.
TT: What do you want to use your major to do in the future?
PK: My passion lies in the space industry. The space industry is transitioning into putting more people into space rather than just purely satellite work. I hope to be a part of the process of designing spaceships and products and things that humans have to interact with in the space environment, whether that’s outer space, the moon, Mars or beyond.
TT: Is there any specific company that you want to work for for co-op or long-term jobs?
PK: So co-op is a little tricky but in terms of long term options, SpaceX is a really big company and they do some really great work. They really push the envelope and are really innovative so I would love to work with them. Blue Origin is another company, and there’s a couple of spacesuit companies like Orbital Outfitters which is based in Texas. Another is Final Frontier Design based in New York City.
TT: What is the product you have designed or made that you’re most proud of?
PK: The product I am most proud of is a communication device called IPI and it’s purely theoretical just because I’ve designed it 30-40 years into the future. I was tasked with making a humidifier and I chose to target the product towards astronauts. I did a lot of research and for an entire term, I internally thought over it because astronauts don’t need humidifiers; they need better ways to communicate with people on Earth, and I wanted to design for an astronaut on Mars. I spent over two terms on this project really figuring it out but at the end of the day, it turned out pretty cool. It looks really nice, it’s very approachable, and it’s got characteristics and features that would only enhance an astronaut’s experience communicating with people on Earth. I put a lot of time and energy into it, and I designed it for people that I care about.
TT: What do you hope to achieve in the long run?
PK: I don’t entirely know. I’m just rolling with how things are coming. Hopefully, at the end of the day, I would like to have an impact in whatever industry I do end up in, whether that’s space or something else. I hope to have risen up the ranks high enough that I have a genuine impact, like I’ve made a lot of products or I’ve genuinely changed the trajectory of certain products in a very specific direction that help connect people connect with each other a lot more.
Kodavatiganti’s work can be viewed at http://www.pradyumank.com/.