Riding the wave of success

Brumbaugh plays part in Apple Watch product launch

 

By William Swaim/ Wyandotte Nation

apple-eli

For Eli Brumbaugh, this age of advancing technology has opened opportunities for him to explore creative pursuits that began at a young age.

The advent of the Internet in the 90s proved to be a driving force for Brumbaugh, 29, a tribal citizen who grew up in Houston and currently lives in San Francisco.

“I was very blessed to grow up in a home that supported my creative pursuits no matter how silly they might have been,” said Brumbaugh, a Senior Product Designer at Salesforce. “Having early access to a computer with the Internet as a young kid in the 90s was life changing.

“I learned how to build my own computers from scrap parts and fell in love with technology and web design. I guess in one form or another this has always been my passion.”

Those early pursuits led Brumbaugh on a path to where he is today — most recently, playing a key part in the Apple Watch product launch.

As a Senior Product Designer at Salesforce for the last year and a half, Brumbaugh creates large-scale design systems, with a few teammates, that spread across desktop, tablet, mobile and wearables for the Analytics product. He said this includes wearing several hats as an interaction designer, visual designer and front-end developer.

He said designing for Apple Watch was uncharted territory for him.

“Salesforce was selected by Apple to be included in the product launch. I was selected by Salesforce to represent us in the process and translate our existing iPhone app onto the Apple Watch,” he said. “This meant redesigning the entire system for a 42mm and 38mm screen size, exploring new forms of human interaction with a device and visual design patterns.”

He said news of Apple Watch selecting Salesforce happened while he and a few co-workers were about to grab dinner to celebrate wrapping up a previous project.

“I just blanked. I probably went pale. It was huge,” he said. “As a Designer being part of an Apple product launch, let alone a new product launch for something as monumental as the Apple Watch – it’s one of the greatest accomplishments I could have ever hoped to achieve.”

Brumbaugh said being able to create the first Enterprise app for that same device was incredible. “Experimental interfaces is something I’m really passionate about. Being selected by my company to pioneer the way our system works on a wearable device like the watch was an honor,” he said.

Other than his technological pursuits, his family and his heritage have been important parts of his life and the path he has taken.

“Growing up with the Native American heritage my father (Hal Brumbaugh) and I share was always a source of pride for our family,” he said. “Squire Grey Eyes is my great, great, great grandfather. As a kid I remember visiting the tribe in Oklahoma, attending Pow-Wows, visiting the historic Wyandot Mission Church in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, and viewing the Wyandot National Burying Ground in Kansas City, Kansas.

“Identifying as a Native American helped give me a strong sense of self. Having pride in one’s culture is very important.”

Like many tribal citizens, Brumbaugh has benefited from the many benefits the Tribe has provided, including the tribal scholarship program. He said the programs have been a blessing.

“It reminds me that the tribe is invested in the future of its members. As members of the tribe we must in turn invest back into it,” he said.

As for that return on investment, perhaps his early successes will help raise awareness about the opportunities available to young tribal citizens.

“I would love to see more Native Americans in the Tech industry. Diversity in any industry will only strengthen it and this country. The only way this is going to happen is through awareness,” he said. “Young Native Americans need to know these kinds of opportunities not only exist but that they are easily attainable with hard work and dedication.”

As for the future, Brumbaugh is continuing to follow his own path.

“My current goals are to work on user interfaces for commercial space travel, satellite communication and space mining,” he said, “which means I’ve had to start teaching myself everything I can about those subjects now.

“That future is becoming less science fiction with each passing day.”

Q&A:

  • What college did you attend/graduate from? Kansas City Art Institute.
  • Hobbies (what do you do when you are not working)? Travel, Read, Write, Design Side Projects.
  • Favorite food? Mexican.
  • What’s your all-time favorite movie? Brutal question. I love trilogies. Any work for me.
  • Favorite TV show (current and all-time)? Current: Parks and Rec. All-Time: Top Gear (UK)
  • What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past year? Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Who is your role model? My Father (Hal Brumbaugh) and Elon Musk.
  • Last book you’ve read? Ready Player One.
  • Favorite music? Depends on what I’m doing. Working – Upbeat / fast paced, Electronic, Rock. Relaxing – Chill, Indie, Acoustic.
  • Accomplishments:
    • 50+ Art Shows as a painter around the country prior to becoming a designer
    • Earned a Property and Casualty Insurance License in the State of Texas prior to becoming a designer.
    • Accepted into the Kansas City Art Institute to study Graphic Design on a competitive scholarship.
    • Attained 4 Scholarships as a student.
    • 20+ Awards for creative work as a student and professional.
    • 5 Internships as a student.
    • A Graphic Design USA Top Student to Watch in 2013.
    • Accepted into the highly competitive Huge UX School in Brooklyn post graduation.
    • Hired by Salesforce as a Product Designer.
    • Designed the world’s first Enterprise Apple Watch app.
    • Being part of a new Apple product launch.
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