Choosing Industrial Design Programs

What should you look for in industrial design programs? Here are seven things to consider.

industrial designer with product modelsIndustrial designers play a role in the making of just about every product on the market. They combine a passion for the visual arts, a natural penchant for problem solving and expert mechanical abilities in order to create products whose function is as beautiful as their appearance.

Their career paths are as various as the products they produce, but the vast majority have one thing in common: Industrial design programs helped them get their start.

So how do you choose between industrial design programs when your career could literally take you almost anywhere? Here are some good things to think about when making your choice:

First, What Will I study?

When you choose an industrial design degree program, you’ll find yourself at the junction of form and function. You’ll need aesthetics, technology and analytics to design products for humans. Here are some of the courses you’ll take in an industrial design BFA program:

  • 2D and 3D Design
  • Art and Architecture
  • Integrated CAD
  • Materials and Processes
  • Digital and Form Drawing
  • Human Factors

7 Things to Consider in Choosing Your School

All industrial design programs teach the fundamentals, guiding students through the process of product creation—from making initial drawings of would-be products to planning the manufacturing process. Beyond the basics, though, industrial design schools can vary considerably in how they prepare you for your career. With this in mind, here are some things to consider when choosing a school:

1. Convenience

The first thing to consider when narrowing down your list of industrial design programs is how each individual program will mesh with your lifestyle. Do you need to find a school near your current location? Can you study full-time, or do you need to attend classes part-time or in the evenings? How much tuition can you afford? Answering these basic questions should help you focus in on the handful of industrial design programs you should investigate further.

2. Focus

While most industrial design programs will introduce you to a broad range of concepts, individual schools may be tend toward producing designers who work in certain environments, with certain materials, or producing certain categories of products.

3. Faculty

Your professors’ training and experience in the industrial design career field will inevitably be a huge influence on your own career, so when you’re looking at industrial design programs, study the faculty’s backgrounds carefully. What are their areas of interest? Have they worked as professional designers? It’s important to know what your potential teachers’ perspectives are before you sign on to let them guide your education.

4. Facilities

What sorts of studio space, computer labs and library materials do your prospective industrial design schools provide? You should have access to relevant industrial design publications, state-of-the-art wood and metal working studios, and training on the latest software.

5. Internships

Many industrial design programs send students out to work for several different companies as part of their training process. Do your prospective industrial design schools offer internship programs? Which companies do they have relationships with? Your internship experience will play a huge role in determining your future industrial design job possibilities, so be sure that your school’s ties to industry align with your interests.

6. Reputation and Accreditation

Attending an accredited industrial design program—most often accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design—will help guarantee that you’re receiving a high-quality education, that you’ll be able to transfer your credits to another accredited program, and that you’ll be able to go to graduate school. In addition to accreditation, you should ask around to find out about your school’s reputation in the industry.

7. Career Placement and Graduate Success

The industrial design program you choose should have a track record of producing successful graduates. It should also offer you career placement services to help you find a job after you graduate. Do they have strong industry relationships, long lists of job opportunities, and career counselors waiting to guide you? If so, you’re likely on your way to a promising industrial design career.

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