Sean Horita

Industrial Designer

Class of 1991




By Jaeline Lee


Sean Horita is an industrial designer who works at Precor, a Seattle company that manufactures exercise equipment. As part of their in-house design team, he negotiates with all segments of the company from marketing to sales and, finally, to manufacturing products.

Sean became interested in industrial design while still a junior at Waiakea High School.He was thumbing through a stack of magazines at the UHH library when he found a magazine called International Design (ID).In that magazine there were sketches and models of different kinds of designs. After reading about the profession, he decided to learn more about design and began researching colleges that offered courses in the field.He created and submitted a portfolio of artistic, sculptural, and design work.He took art classes, designed T-shirts and took black and white photographs to complete his portfolio.

††††††††† Sean went to Syracuse University, New York, and completed their 5-years Bachelors of Industrial Design degree in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.An industrial designer is judged on the strength of his portfolio, not his GPA.He suggests that potential students study art, shop, and public speaking.Being involved in student government would also help.

††††††† The design process begins with conversations with engineers and sales people who convey the costs and constraints of the project.Sean usually starts his projects by making lots of sketches, which he reviews with the other designers and design directors. These people provide the feedback which he uses to create another round of sketches that are more detailed. The next step is to build models, either by hand or with a rapid-prototyping machine like a 3D printer.These models provide the data needed to evaluate the prototype.The process of design, build, design, build, design, etc. continues until the prototype is perfected.

†††††††† Industrial designers create the appearance and enhance the use of all kinds of products.There are many different disciplines of design, including large-scale architecture and interiors, graphics, software, and websites all with the goal of creating products intended for mass manufacturing.

Seanís first junior-level job was in Boston, creating models for ski helmets.These helmets were designed by another Syracuse alumnus who ran his own design firm.He later got a job as a product developer with that same ski helmet company and learned CAD modeling and using computers to design products.That job was fun because he got to go to a lot of ski hills, doing research and getting customer feedback about the new designs.

He worked at a few other design firms in Boston before heading west to Santa Cruz, CA as a senior industrial designer position. The work in California was very different since the company had a lot of Silicon Valley clients designing and building consumer electronics and high-tech devices.He worked with experienced engineers and managed people on many kinds of projects including computer modems, pedal-powered golf carts and triathlon bicycles.

A fanatical bike rider in Boston, his move to Santa Cruz provided him with the opportunity to turn his obsession into reality by designing composite bicycle frames for Kestrel. Sean would go down to the prototype shop, get some surfboard foam, and use hand tools to shape and form the shapes he was imagining. A Computer Aided Design (CAD) model of the bicycle, and then a very accurate model of the bike cut on a CNC milling machine would be created,usually from heavy foam or plastic. Creating an aerodynamic, emotionally powerful shaped bike that looked great on the showroom floor and rode with speed was the goal. The Kestrel Airfoil Pro won several design awards and raced to a 2nd place finish in the Kona Ironman Triathlon World Championships.

††††† †††Sean graduated from Waiakea in1991. Because many of his engineering projects require knowing math and physics, he wished he had studied more math and physics.Some of his more enjoyable classes included art, English, playing keyboards in the jazz band and participating in sports.He enjoyed planning and producing school-wide projects as SGA president.Giving speeches to the entire student body assembled in the gym helped prepare him for his profession.He doesnít get too nervous when presenting a product concept and asking a company for millions of dollars to build it.

He is still very close with about a dozen of his high school and wanted to credit some of his teachers.Mrs. Judith Hara, art teacher, showed him different schools of thought and ways to explore techniques, brought in real artists from the local community and helped him with craft his design portfolio.Mr. Howard Oshiro, band teacher, facilitated his fourth period jazz group.Mrs. Netlie Yokoyama, SGA advisor, was and still is, a great friend and advisor.Mrs. Shellie Naungayan, his junior English teacher, was very encouraging and helped him explore language, the arts, and different media.