My first original design project was at age 10, when I created a Rube Goldberg contraption involving marbles, pvc pipe, rubber bands, duct tape, paper cups and assorted items readily available in a household. The invention was approximately 4' tall by 15' long and located in our basement. That same year, I built a "space capsule" in my bedroom closet which involved a lot of tin foil, batteries, blinking lights and a dismantled radio.
However, I got my start as a designer with a second hand engineering version (adult-level) of LEGOs at age 3, given to my family by a next door neighbor in Berlin, Germany. When I reached my 2nd year of undergraduate classes in the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University, my first design project was an automated hydraulic boat jack -- which was fun to work on since I loved the sea and sailing. During summer internships and after college, I worked as a designer for a helicopter manufacturer, energy firms, medical devices manufacturer and an Abu Dhabi government desalination plant.