The Industrial Design curriculum balances aspects of problem solving, aesthetics, and business principles in the development of commercial and consumer products. Students experience the design process while developing skills in two- and threedimensional representation. Studio courses include research, concept ideation, and presentation exercises in response to realistic design briefs, and builds on an understanding of materials and processes, business methods, and legal and ethical issues. Related study in art history and general education contributes to a greater understanding of the cultural context of products in society.
As a student in the Industrial Design program, you’ll be immersed in the professional practice of designing product experiences for a wide range of industries. You’ll learn how to apply a user-centered creative problem-solving process in response to realistic design briefs, discovering how to tailor the aesthetic details and interactive components of a product to meet users’ needs, resolve problems, and improve the quality of life. Through a broad exploration of materials and processes, including focused examinations of footwear design, healthcare design, and interdisciplinary entrepreneurship, as well as investigations of the legal and ethical implications of design, you’ll understand how to foster meaningful design solutions that are both innovative and socially responsible.
You’ll also round your education out with a wide range of general education and art history courses that will stimulate your curiosity, broaden your perspective, and inspire new creative expressions. KCAD’s flexible General Education Pathways model empowers you to direct your learning by exploring subjects you find most engaging and relevant.
In the Industrial Design program, you’ll develop proficiency in a user-centered problem solving process that requires a wide range of technical, analytical, and creative skills including design research, human-centered design, entrepreneurship, concept ideation, sketching, model making, CAD software operation, digital rendering, visual storytelling, and prototype development. You’ll also develop business and presentation skills that will prepare you to succeed in entrepreneurial endeavors. As the design process and studio projects increase in complexity, you’ll build a strong portfolio of work in preparation for the transition to working professionally in the field.
KCAD’s Industrial Design program provides a conduit for industry exposure and interaction through its proximity to and relationship with the thriving design community of West Michigan, home to companies such as Bissell, Whirlpool, Rubbermaid, Steelcase, and Wolverine Worldwide. You’ll have opportunities to connect directly to professionals in these companies through site tours, networking events, internships, and collaborative industry-sponsored projects that provide real-life context for the project and professional-level critique.
With the program’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and relationship to organizations and events that incubate entrepreneurial activity in West Michigan, you’ll also be immersed in the business side of design and graduate with an extremely versatile set of experiences and skills. Furthermore, opportunities to engage in both specialized and global design experiences will enable you to pursue a wide variety of career options.
As a KCAD Industrial Design student, you’ll graduate prepared to enter the industry as a professional industrial designer working for a consultancy or corporate design studio, working independently on a freelance basis, or even launching your own business or product line. Your ability to balance creative and analytical thinking will prepare you to assume leadership positions within whatever organization you end up working for. Ultimately, you’ll be able to use your academic, industry, and community experiences to help determine which aspect of design you are most passionate about and tailor your professional goals accordingly.
As an Industrial Design student, you’ll have access to spacious design studios; KCAD’s Material ConneXion Satellite Library, which offers direct access to more than 1,000 physical samples of advanced, innovative, and sustainable materials as well as online access to over 7,000 more; The Dow Center FlexLab, KCAD’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication facility featuring 3D printers and scanners, laser cutting and vinyl cutting machines, wide format printers, and more; a spacious and well-equipped woodshop, supervised by an experienced technician, at your disposal, with over 30 pieces of equipment including table saws and a fully-ventilated walk-in spray paint and glue room; the KCAD Library, which provides access to millions of books through the MeLCat shared library catalog as well as access to specialized research databases and subscriptions to scholarly journals; and much more.
The Industrial Design program’s strong ties to local chapters of the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), and the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) provide opportunities for you to immerse yourself in the vibrant design community of Grand Rapids as well as gain valuable perspective from leading contemporary designers who visit the region and the KCAD campus.
You’ll also be plugged into the local startup community through KCAD’s relationship with local entrepreneurial accelerators like StartGarden and Startup Weekend Grand Rapids, and you’ll benefit from access to industry interactions, guest speakers, design forums, and other events hosted by Design West Michigan, a KCAD organization that explores and advocates for design as an economic building block in the region.
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A problem-solving course covering the principles of composition and modular design systems. Uses predominately abstract shapes and black, white, and achromatic gray ranges.(Students who have earned credit for VISC 110, Design I, may not use credit earned in KCPA 110 to meet graduation requirements.)
To explore the elements, principles and aesthetic concepts integral to three-dimensional design and to consider relationships between concept, process, materials, tools and technical skills. (Students who have earned credit for ARTS 120, 3-D Design, may not use credit earned in KCSF 11 to meet graduation requirements.)
From a combination of perceptual psychology and ethnographic research,the student will explore the underlying elements of how we perceive, react and relate to the designed world. The student will consider the physiological and learned behaviors that shape our interactions with the built environment with an emphasis on experiential and emotional design.
An introduction to the computer as a design tool using the industry standards in page layout and digital illustration, and photo manipulation software, the Adobe Creative Suite. File transport (PDF) and font management software will also be introduced.
An introduction to product sketching and presentation techniques used in the industrial design profession.
The creation, manipulation, and employment of three-dimensional, digital models in the industrial design process.
Students will be exposed to the full range of design disciplines, their history of development, how they interact, differ, converge and lead to change in accommodating new needs. Students will explore design principles and processes, including product innovation and development, sustainability, form and function, and discover how design is an asset to the economy and works with business.
An introduction to the materials and manufacturing processes typically explored in the design process. The course emphasizes the practice of choosing a material and process specification strategy based on product application criteria.
This course addresses the application and role of graphic principles, tools, and techniques in the industrial design process.
An introduction to the application of the design process and problem-solving methodology through the design of simple products.
An intermediate study of the design process and problem-solving methodologies through the design of products.
An advanced study of the design process and problem-solving methodology through the design of products.
A comprehensive study of the application of the design process and problem-solving methodology through the design of complex products and systems.
An intermediate study of product sketching, rendering and presentation techniques used for visually communicating ideas and product forms within the design process. The course will emphasize professional presentation formats and mediums.
An advanced study of product sketching, rendering and presentation techniques used for visually communicating ideas and product forms within the design process. The course will emphasize the development of the highest quality renderings using computer-based, manual rendering software with a tablet.
An introduction to materials, tools, and techniques used to fabricate physical representations of product concepts in the industrial design profession.
This course will expose students to the various forms of research, analysis, sampling, focus groups, analytics with an emphasis on ethnographic research and the implications on the design process.
An advanced application of the design process in a comprehensive product development project. Students will select and complete an instructor-approved project of choice over the course of two semesters. The first semester emphasizes the development of a project plan, product research, strategy building and concept development.
An advanced application of the design process in a comprehensive product development project. Students complete the second semester of a two-semester project. The second semester emphasizes the development of the concept proposal into a feasible product design including mock-up fabrication, human factors evaluation, aesthetic development, 3D development (CAD), 3D visualization and prototyping.
Individual preparation and presentation of a professional quality portfolio of work and resume; familiarization with the operating aspects of professional practice.
An overview of the Western Art tradition from prehistory through the Renaissance using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 110, Prehistoric through Middle Ages, may not use credit earned in KCAH 111 to meet graduation requirements.)
A survey of Western art from the Baroque to the present, this course will continue building upon the foundation of Western Art I; Prehistoric through the Renaissance, using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 111, Renaissance through 20th Century, may not use credit earned in KCAH 112 to meet graduation requirements.)
A survey of industrial design arts and the historical development of the profession of industrial design from its origins in the Industrial Revolution to the present.
This course focuses on using writing to develop ideas, hone critical thinking skills, and express ideas clearly and appropriately according to audience and purpose. Students write in a variety of modes and spend a portion of the semester engaging in scholarly research. Students also develop their public speaking skills.
This course provides a core understanding of effective storytelling. It examines the ways in which storytellers-both past and present-craft, organize, and convey ideas to successfully impact audiences, doing so through both inquiry into established narratives, as well as students' own experiments with narrative forms.
This course examines what it means to be a member of a particular society and how individuals both form and are formed by society. It will provide students with a better understanding of the social and cultural worlds they inhabit.
This course is an inquiry into the nature and power of philosophy to transform the way we experience the world around us and understand our place within it. Through a selection of readings representing various philosophical traditions and perspectives, critical discussion, and writing, students will examine some of the great questions that have intrigues philosophers from antiquity to present.
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As a graduate of the Industrial Design program, you’ll be prepared to enter the industry as a professional industrial designer working for a consultancy or corporate design studio. You’ll also be well-equipped to start your own business and launch your own product ideas.
The professional field of industrial design offers a wide range of opportunities to build skill proficiencies, subject matter depth, and management skills. Your ability to balance creative and analytical thinking will make you well-suited for leadership roles.