This passion led Phillips to MIT, where she discovered product design and from there got a job as a designer at the nation’s largest supplier of cordless power tools, Milwaukee Tool.
Her time at the Wisconsin company began with a month-long internship during her Independent Activities Period (IAP) freshman year at MIT. Microinternship Programwhere she was able to gain valuable experience working directly with MIT alumni.
“I worked with a group of cutting-edge engineers and worked on the development of a vending tool accessory that, like our products, was aimed at enhancing the efficiency of a common task that electricians perform throughout the day,” explains Phillips. , who earned her bachelor’s degree in 2-A, a customizable mechanical engineering course that allowed her to dive deep into product design.
The best part of the January 2020 microinternship, she says, is that she walked away with the prototype in hand: “The prototyping process started with me putting myself in the shoes of the users by experiencing what they are currently doing in the workplace. and what are the pain points of this process.
“I just love the feeling I get when I first hold something that I have designed or made. That’s a big part of why I became an engineer.”
Rosalie Phillips ’21
Once Phillips had an idea of what success would look like, she began brainstorming about how to achieve it. “After I picked the best concept, I started iterating and problem solving,” she says. “Milwaukee has excellent on-site rapid prototyping resources and I was able to develop a concept and get a high-quality 3D print in a day or two to test everything from access to ergonomics to fit. It was an amazing hands-on experience, surrounded by all the prototyping resources you could ask for – definitely a playground for engineers.”
The success of the IAP internship prompted Phillips to sign up for a full-time internship with Milwaukee Tool in the summer of 2020, when she began work on a prototype carpentry power tool. This was followed by a full-time job offer. She started working in September 2021. What attracted her to the company was the structure of the product design cycle and the fact that each person owns the project rather than being involved in several larger projects.
“I just love the feeling I get when I first hold something that I designed or made. That’s the main reason I became an engineer,” says Phillips. “I’m amazed that I was able to bring something from my brain into the world, excited to test it, curious if it breaks, and already ready to do the next one.”
The idea of an IAP internship is not new. The MIT Alumni Association launched the MIT Undergraduate/Alumni Internship Program in 1997 to allow alumni to accept student interns during the January semester. It was renamed the Micro Internship Program following its revamp following its transition to MIT Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD) in 2020. The program continues to encourage MIT alumni to accept undergraduate and graduate students at their companies, although students now also have the opportunity to apply for positions not filled by alumni.