Our Amazing & Creative Alumni: Peter Bromka '00

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Design researcher

By Nadine Fiedler

From the Summer 2011 Caller

As a human factors researcher at design firm IDEO, an award-winning global design firm, Peter Bromka ’00 thrives in an atmosphere where creativity is expected. IDEO’s mission is to help its clients innovate, from government agencies to consumer product manufacturers to schools and more.
 
Peter’s work in human factors is a perfect fit for someone with a degree in anthropology. His understanding of human behavior, combined with fluency in the arts, make Peter’s work greatly satisfying for him. “Human factors is about understanding how to make things that work well for people. It’s about how design impacts people’s lives,” says Peter. “How do they experience things in their day-to- day lives?”
 
Peter first thought advertising would be the right career for him—until he read about IDEO. But breaking into the field turned out to be a challenge: IDEO rejected his first application. So he studied product design for a summer at the Rhode Island School of Design: “It showed that I wasn’t afraid to sketch, and that I could strategize. I redesigned an umbrella, and stitched it together by hand.” That class, plus years of experience at another firm, ultimately led him to land a job at IDEO.
 
“In my role here I conduct the research and strategy for projects,” says Peter. “I work to understand people’s behaviors and identify opportunities for design.” For instance, he recently worked with a bank in Brazil—a country dubious about online security—to bring its online banking and customer interface into the present and future.
 
“Doing what I do, I’ve come to appreciate how much things could be better, and how much design can improve these situations, but also just how complex these challenges really are—how many people it takes to get something done successfully,” Peter says. “It’s changed the way I look at the world.”

“As a Catlin Gabel lifer, I’ve done art forever and gotten great exposure to art and design. Good art teachers teach you not to reject art in your life, even if you’re not perfect at it.”