It’s another crisp morning in the sleepy town in Price, Utah. Kendall Hansen walks into the Research and Development department at Dustless Technologies. Typically, he starts his day out with a cup of coffee and occasionally picks up a prototype off the 3D printer.
Kendall often pops in his earbuds and turns on some music – something that helps him with his design work. An iconic bamboo plant sits atop his desk while he types and clicks. When he’s not on the job he enjoys writing and playing music (he even 3D printed his own electric guitar), going on adventures, enjoying the great outdoors, and spending time with his wife, Candace.
Just a few years ago he was a student. Now, he is a highly esteemed engineering design resource for a multi-million dollar company.
From Student to Engineer
Kendall grew up in Price, Utah, a small town on the edge of the Colorado Plateau in rural Utah. After graduating with his Associates Degree from Utah State University – Eastern (previously known as the College of Eastern Utah), he knew it was time to go somewhere else. He attended the University of Utah studying architecture. However, something didn’t quite fit for him.
“When I started up at the U in architecture, I was interested in a lot of architecture and design. When I got more into the program, I realized it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting…I was more focused on residential architecture and [the program] was more large scale”, Kendall remarked.
Kendall began considering his options. Without a Master’s Degree he would have a difficult time getting a job in architecture. “I talked with Elias Perez”, his professor and personal friend at USU-Eastern, “and he recommended Engineering Technology at Southern Utah University. It was a really good fit. I transferred and started doing that”, Kendall said of his decision to change his field of study.
Engineering Technology appealed more to Kendall as it had more of an emphasis on actual “doing”. Kendall continued, “it’s less in depth in the calculations and more in depth in hands-on, applying design.”
Kendall finished out his Bachelors of Engineering Technology, emphasizing in computer-aided design and manufacturing, and started looking for employment opportunities.
Although he applied for positions across the state of Utah, surprisingly a position was open in his hometown of Price. Dustless Technologies hired Kendall as an engineer straight out of college.
His First Assignment
Kendall began with a couple of existing development projects. One project was the DustBuddie for Worm Drive Saws, an accessory that fits onto worm drive saws and captures the dust using vacuum suction. Once Kendall completed the product, it would become a brilliant shroud that was high in demand among professionals.
We asked Kendall a few questions about the process.
Q: Tell me about your first assignment as an engineer.
A: “When I got hired, there were a few projects that were already underway. For Apollo [the code name for the project], the Worm Drive Shroud, there were already some concepts that had been tested and attempted.
“It was the first project that I managed, like ‘throw him in the deep end and see if he can swim’. It was a good experience.
“I was able to breathe the life back into the project, where it had started to become stagnant, and apply my own designing to it. My first prototype was made with Legos because they are easy to disassemble and assemble and reconfigure. Once I got a clear path of where I wanted to go, the design evolved to where it is now. The project went smoothly and luckily there weren’t many major hurdles.
Q: How did you take an unsuccessful design and turn it into one of the company’s top performing products?
A: “I think it starts with a good concept. It starts with an interesting idea and although the first iteration didn’t work, I was able to look at it a slightly different way. Every designer is going to look at it a different way. I believed I could get it to work.”
Q: What advice would you give to people who are looking to become engineers?
A: “Try to focus on being able to solve a problem without a lot of guidance or without someone telling you what to do and how to do it. You need to be able to make that path on your own and you need to be able to define a problem, and a solution, on your own sometimes”.
A New Role
For nearly four years Kendall has worked a hybrid role as a project manager and designer – taking charge of various development projects within our company. This allows him to work with the company’s project managers and to be an assisting hand in engineering and design work.
Kendall Hansen is the guy around the office that is friends with everyone. Kendall is a humble, yet brilliant inventor. The Utah Manufacturers Association recently featured his product (see page 2).