Melissa Dawson Headshot

Melissa Dawson

Associate Professor

School of Design
College of Art and Design

585-475-5647
Office Location

Melissa Dawson

Associate Professor

School of Design
College of Art and Design

Education

BS, Cornell University; MS, Philadelphia University

Bio

Melissa Dawson is an Associate Professor of Industrial Design at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY USA, who earned a BS in Textiles & Apparel at Cornell University and a MS in Textile Design at Philadelphia University. Melissa has spent both her professional design and academic careers espousing the technological complexities of successful soft product design. Over the last several years, Melissa has used her experience to successfully integrate formal soft goods product design courses into RIT’s internationally-ranked Industrial Design undergraduate and graduate programs through the creation of RIT Soft Studio. Melissa’s scholarship interests include RIT Soft Studio’s Abracemos lo Nuestro Project, which empowers traditional Paraguayan textile artisans with design strategies to encourage innovation in new product applications. Melissa is currently on the Fulbright Specialist roster and working on her PhD in Textile Science & Engineering.

585-475-5647

Areas of Expertise

Select Scholarship

External Scholarly Fellowships/National Review Committee
1/1/2021 -12/31/2025
     Fulbright Specialist Program
     Amount: 0
Published Conference Proceedings
Esteche, Andrea Gonzalez and Melissa Dawson. "Abracemos lo Nuestro: Encouraging New Ideation with Traditional Paraguayan Textiles." Proceedings of the Cumulus Conference: The Design After, held October 30 – November 1, 2019 in Bogotá, Colombia. Ed. Hernando Barragán and Claudia Mejía. Bogotá, Colombia: Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, 2019. Web.
Dawson, Melissa. "UnWasted Possibilities: An Exploration in Product Design Using Felt Offcuts." Proceedings of the NETInc Conference 2019, held May 5-8, 2019 in Indianapolis, IN USA. Ed. PaperCon 2019. Indianapolis, IN: TAPPI Press, 2019. Web.
Dawson, Melissa and Mary Golden. "Abracito: Designing Skin-to-Skin Incubation Garments for Preemies & Micro Preemies." Proceedings of the 2019 International Textiles and Apparel Annual Conference. Ed. ITAA. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Library Digital Press, 2019. Web.
Rivera, Michael L., et al. "Stretching the Bounds of 3D Printing with Embedded Textiles." Proceedings of the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Denver, CO, May 6-11, 2017. Ed. General Chairs: Gloria Mark, Susan Fussell. Denver, Colorado: ACM New York, NY, USA, Web.
Shows/Exhibits/Installations
Studio, RIT Soft. Soft Studio at NYC Design Week. By Melissa Dawson and Josh Owen. May 2018. WantedDesign IC, Brooklyn, NY. Exhibit.

Currently Teaching

IDDE-301
3 Credits
Students will explore the benefits and challenges of working with a design team to address a complex product, problem, or system. Students will explore group dynamics, creativity in design teams, as well as the nature of complex problems and the various methods required to solve them.
IDDE-302
3 Credits
This course will highlight the application of design methods and processes through projects that focus on deepening the students’ problem-solving skills, studio skills (two- and three-dimensional sketching, drawing, CAD), shop skills (modelmaking) and presentation skills. Emphasis will be placed on collaborating with multidisciplinary partners outside the industrial design program, and/or, when circumstances allow, with external resources such as clients or project sponsors.
IDDE-501
3 Credits
This course will explore the application of design methods and skills to projects addressing large-community and global problems requiring team-based, trans-disciplinary collaborations.
IDDE-502
4 Credits
Senior ID Studio II applies design methods and skills to advanced level projects addressing users with unique, non-traditional needs requiring multi-disciplinary collaborations. Project development will emulate processes used in professional industrial design practice.
IDDE-520
3 Credits
This course will focus on developing ideas in art, design and craft. The specific topics for this course will vary each time it is taught. Potential topics may include the creation of public spaces, products, analog and digital fabrication, furniture, inter-disciplinary collaborations, etc. This course can be taken multiple times but individual topics must be different.
IDDE-599
1 - 6 Credits
Industrial Design Independent Study provides students the means to study in a specialized area with an individual faculty member. With the assistance of their faculty advisers, students will propose a course of study. Students must obtain permission of an instructor and complete the Independent Study Permission Form to enroll. A 3.0 or higher GPA required.
IDDE-672
3 Credits
This is the second part of a two-course series that provides opportunities for fine tuning of design process and development of meaningful solutions across multiple scenarios. Projects and assignments will expand on the application of design methods and collaboration. Course content will integrate current and emerging technologies that influence design practice as well as society and culture. A strong focus will be on the testing and implementation of design solutions in effective ways.
IDDE-701
3 Credits
Design Laboratory I is part one of a studio sequence that provides a forum for discourse and experimentation in design. Critical analysis, contextual relevance and research methodologies are developed and used as a means to define the role of design and the designer in creating consequential solutions for the social, economical and environmental betterment of the global communities. Projects will extend these ideas into the practice of industrial design as a mode of understanding the relationships that exist between the user, the community and the designed artifacts. Opportunities for inter and trans-disciplinary collaborations will broaden the scope of the projects. We will design through a process of iteration and reiteration, empathic exploration, and the development of the physical artifacts. Categories of products may include: consumer goods, equipment, transportation, furniture, or packaging.
IDDE-702
3 Credits
This course is the second of a two-course studio sequence that provides a forum for discourse and experimentation in design. Course continues the methodology established in Design Laboratory I, and extends the scope to human-centered concepts, artifacts and systems at both local and global levels. Assignments will include topics such as: responsible design practices, universal design, environmental sensibility, project management and fabrication.
IDDE-799
1 - 6 Credits
Industrial Design Independent Study provides students the means to study in a specialized area with an individual faculty member. With the assistance of their faculty advisers, students will propose a course of study. Students must obtain permission of an instructor and complete the Independent Study Permission Form to enroll. **NOTE: Student must have a minimum 3.0 GPA **

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