A designer who builds cars and “latte art”

April 13, 2011

Ed. note: This post is a part of our continuing blog series featuring our employees. Here, we hear from our very own Adam Barker – a senior designer who builds interesting things from scratch. Here, he tells you more about some of his interesting projects, and why he’s so excited to be at LinkedIn.

Not everyone sees a blank canvas in a foam latte or a pile of car parts.

But I guess that’s what makes me unique; I love a good challenge. I’m a designer at heart, but I enjoy trying new things and learning quickly.

That’s why working here at LinkedIn has been such a great experience. I joined LinkedIn because I had a lot of respect for the products, and I wanted to be a part of a medium-size company that was about to become much larger.

In the past year-and-a-half, I’ve probably changed desks within the Design team about six times. Currently, I design software products, such as the new LinkedIn Polls analytics tool that debuted in December.

But what’s really great about working here is that LinkedIn has allowed me to stoke my creative interests both inside and outside of work.

Last year, I joined a team competing for the “X Prize” challenge to design a 100 mile per gallon commuter car. My manager was incredibly supportive and allowed me to take time off on short notice-- he understood that this was an exciting opportunity that couldn’t be missed. I flew to Seattle and worked for 10 days straight to help a team of volunteers build a 100 mpg car from scratch. The Wikispeed team car received 10th place out of 150 teams!

Currently, I’m spending my weekends working on a project for the “24 Hours of Lemons” endurance race for $500 cars. My Lemons team has taken a 1989 BMW 325i sedan (purchased for $400) and are converting it into a vehicle that resembles the ambulance in “Ghostbusters.” Our first race is a little over a month away, and I’m pretty excited about it.

Another fun project I’m tinkering with right now is “latte art,” where I pour milk through a shot of espresso to create shapes, like trees and flowers. I bought an espresso machine on eBay and restored it to perfect this art at home. Since LinkedIn provides free food and beverages to employees, including use of our on-site espresso machines, I can test out my creations on my colleagues here.

LinkedIn has also encouraged me to pursue my passions on the job. Recently, I’ve been working as a staff photographer for some of our on-site events. I’ve also submitted a couple projects for LinkedIn’s monthly “Hackday” competitions. I even won one competition last year, for my idea for a URL shortener. Very cool.

So what’s next? Well, I’m thinking of a new project for this summer .... Any ideas?

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