CAD student’s bold vision launches promising career

The tech industry drew in Andrew Sanderson from England to Austin.

“This is where success is made,” says Sanderson. “I worked across Western Europe, Scandinavia, and the Middle East, but no other place had quite the same opportunities that I found waiting for me here in Austin.”

Sanderson’s passion for industrial design and product development started at age 16 when he took a job with the Royal Air Force as a propulsion technician. By his mid-20s Sanderson started working on industrial gas turbines for General Electric. All along he kept tinkering with product designs of his own. While on vacation two years ago he came up with an idea for a product to help kite surfers save luggage space while traveling. He took his engineering skills and developed the X3 Kite Compression Kit. It went to market and Sanderson’s career path took a turn.

When he moved to Austin, he enrolled at Austin Community College to pursue an architectural engineering degree and expects to graduate in fall 2015.

One night, while working on a class project, he came up with another new product, a mechanical pencil that will last a lifetime.

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“It’s made from a solid piece of metal. I had no intention to take it public. I made it because I wanted it myself, but people started asking me for one of their own. They wanted to know where I got it,” says Sanderson. “I made a rule that if more than five people told me they wanted one of these pencils then I’d take the design public. That happened in less than a month.”

Sanderson launched a Kickstarter campaign in December to help him refine the manufacturing process.

“I looked into how much it would cost to make and asked how much people would pay for it,” says Sanderson. “I wanted to prove that I could do it. I didn’t realize it was going to be so big.”

He set a relatively low funding goal of $4,000. He’s received more than $138,000.

“There have been 1,600 orders,” says Sanderson. “It’s really kind of incredible actually.”

Sanderson’s design won the 2015 Student Notable Design Award from Core77, a nationally published industrial design magazine.

He’s since founded his own design company, Modern Fuel Design, where he works with clients to bring their product ideas to life.

“I moved here with a bold vision,” says Sanderson. “I was prepared for small steps. This is putting me leaps ahead.”

Learn more ACC’s architectural and engineering design program at Find out how to get started at

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