Industrial design students learn to design everything from furniture to
athletic shoes. They need an eye for what's in fashion, but they also learn
to design products that are as functional as they are attractive.
Different design schools offer different approaches to design education. Some
schools emphasize form and esthetics (looks), while others focus on product
semantics or problem-solving methodologies (the function). The average
student will complete a degree program in four years, though there are some
three-year programs available.
Schools accredited by the Industrial Designers Society of America and the
National Association of Schools of Art and Design will give students a solid
Studies often begin with a basic curriculum. Courses may cover math,
physics, psychology and economics.
Students then study subjects like art, materials of the industry, board
and computer-aided drafting, design, manufacturing and model making.
Many schools offer work placements as part of their program. Martien
de Leeuw directs an industrial design school. His students are asked to spend
at least three months in the industry, studying manufacturing and production
processes. Most students find their own internships locally. Some have the
opportunity of doing their internship abroad.
Students should be curious about products and people and be creative,
critical and observant, says de Leeuw.
"A good design student should be a well-motivated individual with excellent
work habits," says Roman Izdebski, coordinator of a college design program.
Industrial design students should also display skills in writing and oral
presentation and basic math, says John Schmidt, director of the industrial
design department at the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Colorado.
Computer skills are vital. "It takes many people working in a team
to create a product -- and the computer allows all team members to work on
the same information, and to be updated simultaneously when they share a common
database," says de Leeuw. "Computers also allow for virtual testing of aspects
of a design."
In high school, take science courses, including math and physics,
Izdebski says. Art courses will help a student build their portfolio,
including drawing, painting and 3D work.
Any courses that teach computer graphics, drafting and photography also
are helpful. An exposure to wood and metal workshops would be an advantage
for students too, Izdebski says.
The main costs are tuition and books, although you may need to purchase
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information on this field of study, see: Designers
Directory of art schools worldwide, including industrial design.
Also has scholarship information
Core Industrial Design Network
Features a listing of accredited schools in the U.S. and around
the world, as well as industry news and job postings
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