five questions with a product engineer

July 29, 2013 - Article reads in
Le’Spencer Walker works on some of his engineering projects at Target.

Le'Spencer Walker, a product engineer on Target’s Product Design & Development (PD&D) team, spends his days designing bath products for Target’s Threshold and Room Essentials brands and other seasonal collections. But how did his background in industrial and systems engineering lead to his current role as a product innovator? Le’Spencer sheds some light on the topic with answers to five important questions about his engineering background, career path and life on the job at Target.

How did you decide to become an engineer?
“Growing up in Jackson, Miss., I never thought of becoming an engineer until the summer before tenth grade, when I went to engineering camp at Mississippi State University. We learned about all the specific paths one can take: mechanical, electric, civil, industrial … the list goes on. The idea of having the ability to create something from my imagination gave me such energy. That’s when I knew engineering was for me.”

Why did you choose to use your skills for a product design role?
“Engineering is such an important part of any good product design; it helps create the balance between aesthetic and functionality. Smart design can help keep production costs low too, which means guests get a quality product at the best possible price. I love contributing to the Threshold brand's fresh, trend-forward feel and its quality promise that earns our guests' confidence and trust. Room Essentials is one of my more exciting and challenging projects because of its fun, modern feel. For example, I’m working on some design tweaks to the Room Essentials bathroom furniture, inspired by some of the trends our guest are passionate about, like mixed materials, sleek designs and lots of attitude.”

Are people surprised to learn that you work at Target?
“It sometimes surprises friends and family to find out that so many engineers work at Target—as designers and in many other roles across the company. I tell them we devote a lot of time to understanding the guest experience, elevating quality and delivering relevant designs and wonderful prices.”

What does “innovation” mean to you?
“Creating a solution that not only solves a problem, but solves it in a way that others may have already hit on but didn’t believe in enough to bring to fruition. A recent example I’m working on is an update to our Circo children’s bathroom caddy, which is a holder for kids’ bath toys. Though we already carry caddies in other shapes, I’m attempting to create something new that combines function and aesthetic. Will the product hang from the wall? Does it have a unique shape or multiple functions? Only time and collaboration will tell.”

What’s your most important on-the-job learning so far?
“I came to Target with a background in industrial and systems engineering, but I feel that my understanding of design has evolved a lot since then. I’ve become a better engineer because my job in PD&D has allowed me the freedom to think outside the box.”

Engineering jobs like Le’Spencer’s—and many others at Target—offer the opportunity to use advanced technology on the job, grow within a talented team and make the shopping experience even better for guests. Want to learn more? Explore engineering career opportunities at Target.

Visit Target’s Pulse blog to meet more team members telling their on-the-job stories, like Reid Plumbo, another PD&D engineer.


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