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Industrial Design

Overview + History


Through comprehensive teaching, innovative research and corporate partnerships, an education in industrial design places the humanistic delivery of services, systems and products at the forefront of technological development and ethical responsibility.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Industrial Design Program is to provide students with the intellectual and physical skills to assume leadership positions in the world of industrial design. The program addresses the interaction of people with objects and their environment addressing the cultural, technological, business, ergonomic, ecological and social factors that lead to more useful and meaningful products and services.


The studio is the center of activity. The environment is made as rich as possible to foster self-discovery and peer-to-peer learning. Faculty structure interaction around the following educational tenets:

  • The necessity of self activation by the student
  • The necessity of self criticism and the ability for self correction
  • The maintenance of an attitude of constructive discontent
  • The capacity for holistic learning — industrial design, related fields and the context of knowledge

Through its curriculum and resources the program is committed to providing:

  • a rich studio environment that instills intellectual, tactile and communication skills
  • an environment of dialog and discovery that nurtures the experiences and abilities of each student and meshes them with the world of design
  • state-of-the-art facilities that foster an environment of thinking and experimenting
  • students who are aware of the physical, functional and mechanical aspects of a product as well as its appropriate fit within culture and society
  • an understanding of an ethical imperative to employ industrial design as an instrument to better society
  • an awareness that the design of products must link value and meaning with knowledge of material and production processes.

Brief History and Relation to the Architecture Program

The Industrial Design Program offers a four-year Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design (BSIDS) degree. The curriculum is centered on eight semesters of studio/laboratory instruction in conjunction with lecture courses that uniquely draws support from its place within the college, thus offering the student opportunities for discovery within a wide field of explorations. Housed within the School of Architecture + Design, the program enjoys a rich educational community fostering collaborative scholarship across programs including the Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture, Master of Science in Architecture, Bachelor Science in Interior Design, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture, and PhD in Architecture and Design Research programs.

Although relatively a new degree (initiated in 1998), Industrial Design has been part of the activity in the Architecture program since its inception almost 40 years ago. Early founders of the college were aligned with the educational institutions of the Bauhaus and Ulm, and part of that inheritance is still present. Long before the industrial design degree was established the architecture faculty included at least one industrial designer (Pascal Malassigne, IDSA, was hired directly from graduate school in France and served the program for five years; Robert Graeff, IDSA, was part of the faculty for 20 years before retiring in 1996).

The educational linkage of the related disciplines of the School is designed to offer productive challenge to the range and specificity of conventional modes of working while formulating new questions as a result of integral teamwork. The intrinsic relationship between the four programs allows exploration of new territories of opportunity seeded by new research possibilities and corporate liaisons. In addition, cross college collaborations, particularly with Engineering Fundamentals, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering yield exciting and beneficial projects comprised of student teams.