From athletic wear to stereo systems and medical devices, create and develop products for both consumers and manufacturers.
From thumbtacks to athletic wear and medical equipment to home goods – industrial designers produce products to be used by factories, businesses, and everyday people. The industrial design BFA program at RIT helps you develop the aesthetic sensitivity, technical competence, and the analytical thought needed to improve the user’s experience. You will be able to bring your conceptual ideas to life by developing your technical 2D communications skills and 3D prototyping ability. You will also learn how to formally move your ideas and products to the marketplace.
Industrial design involves the integration of form and function as products are designed and created by combining materials, process, computer-aided design, and human factors. Blending technical instruction with studio assignments, studies also include package, exhibit, and furniture design. Aesthetic sensitivity, technical competence, and analytical thought are developed and applied to meet the challenge of designing products for human needs.
Plan of study
The industrial design major integrates major courses, studio and open electives, the liberal arts, and art history electives. Computer skills, design perspectives, career preparation, and exposure to the related areas of publishing, photography, engineering, and information technology are integrated into the curriculum.
RIT announced John Klofas, Bruce Smith and Josh Owen as its first class of Distinguished Faculty, leaders who have provided insights and solutions to today’s criminal justice issues, produced groundbreaking work in nanolithography and developed exciting industrial design innovations.
RIT’s College of Liberal Arts honored student achievement in writing on Friday with the presentation of more than a dozen writing awards for essays varying from sanctuary cities, how democracies can withstand outside meddling, and the excavation, preservation and reconstruction of a London theater where Shakespearian plays debuted.
This course is a structured, cumulative introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, the course focuses on the development of both a visual and a verbal vocabulary as a means of exploring, developing and understanding two-dimensional compositions. Concepts are introduced through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, assigned projects and critiques. The course addresses a wide variety of media, tools, techniques both traditional and technological, and theoretical concepts to facilitate skill development and experimentation with process. Visual comprehension, the ability to organize perceptions and horizontal thinking that crosses other disciplines and theories, are key foundational components to the development of problem solving skills. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience.
Choose one of the following:
This course is the second semester of a sequential, structured introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, students will build upon the visual and a verbal vocabulary, media, techniques, skill development and processes acquired during the fall semester. This term will also focus on the comprehensive exploration of color theory as well as dealing with conceptualization and more advanced issues related to problem solving. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience.
Drawing II Workshop
This course is an investigation of the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about a particular experience in drawing while still covering required foundation elements. Different topics may be taken in the same semester. Topics may only be taken once. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research and assigned projects.. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication.
Choose one of the following:
3D Design II
This is the second-semester of a sequential course. The focus is on composing three-dimensional form and its relationship to space. Students will build on their prior term experiences, which include the introduction to 3D principles, materials, and building processes. Students will develop the sophisticated skill of conceptualization. More advanced problems will be assigned and students will have the opportunity to explore a wide range of material and process possibilities for their resolution. A heightened awareness of idea development and design research will be explored. Inclusion of 21st century themes in the arts of social cultural and community.
3D Design II Workshop
This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about 3D compositions within a more open and experimental realm while still covering the core Foundation concepts. Different topics may be taken in the same semester. Topics may only be taken once. The focus is on composing three-dimensional form and its relationship to space. Material exposure will be determined by the topic’s instructor.
3D Design I
This course presents a progressive study over two-semesters in terminology, visual principles, exploration, concept generation, process, and techniques of three-dimensional design. Using hands-on problem solving, student will develop an informed understanding of the 3D form and space with an emphasis on the elements and principles of visual design and their function as the building blocks and guidelines for ordering a 3D composition. A heightened awareness of form and space will be developed through lecture, assigned projects, and critiques. Students will also develop a personal awareness of problem seeking and solving, experimentation, and critical analysis. **Note: May be taken as a one-semester offering**
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, and assigned projects. Designed to provide a broad introductory experience, students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing expertise and problem solving skills related to design and composition. Course work will be assessed through critique, facilitating self-assessment, and the growth of both a visual and verbal vocabulary. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication.
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic): History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval
The subject of this course is the history of western art and architecture from Prehistory through the Middle Ages. We will examine the form, style, function, and meaning of important objects and monuments of the past, and consider these in their social, historical and cultural contexts. A chronological study will allow us to recognize when, where and by whom a given object was produced. Once these decisive factors are established, we may try to determine why the object was made, what it meant in its time, place and culture, and whose ideology it served. Since we are dealing with visual information, the primary goals of this class are to learn how to look, and how to describe and analyze what we see. At the end of the term, students will be prepared to pursue additional courses in the discipline, for they will have gained a foundational knowledge of the object, scope and methods of art history. The knowledge obtained in this introductory course will also guide students in their own creative endeavors.
LAS Perspective 3 (global): History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern
The subject of this course is the history of western art and architecture from the Renaissance through the early 20th century. We will examine the form, style, function, and meaning of important objects and monuments of the past, and consider these in their social, historical and cultural contexts. A chronological study will allow us to recognize when, where and by whom a given object was produced. Once these decisive factors are established, we may try to determine why the object was made, what it meant in its time, place and culture, and whose ideology it served. Since we are dealing with visual information, the primary goals of this class are to learn how to look, and how to describe and analyze what we see. At the end of the term, students will be prepared to pursue additional courses in the discipline, for they will have gained a foundational knowledge of the object, scope and methods of art history. The knowledge obtained in this introductory course will also guide students in their own creative endeavors.
This course is an introduction to drawing objects and three-dimensional space. Students will understand and use the basics of perspective sketching, developing grids and mechanical perspective and orthogonal views.
The Year One class serves as an interdisciplinary catalyst for first-year students to access campus resources, services and opportunities that promote self-knowledge, personal success, leadership development, social responsibility and life academic skills awareness and application. Year One is also designed to challenge and encourage first-year students to get to know one another, build relationships and help them become an integral part of the campus community.
First Year Writing (WI)
Choose one of the following:
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry)
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles)
LAS Perspective 7 (mathematical)
Sophomore ID Studio I
This studio course focuses on experimentation and discovery through the exploration of creative problem solving techniques. Students explore the dynamics between objects and the user's senses and emotions. Using drawing, sketch-modeling and basic shop skills, students are exposed to the wide choice of materials industrial designers use to move their projects forward. Concepts of recycling and reuse are introduced, as well as other philosophical design approaches such as historical examples and material culture. Emphasis is placed on the improvement of craft in the execution of projects. Stress is placed on evoking clarity and promoting professionalism in practices.
Sophomore ID Studio II
In this course, design projects are conceived as the result of close contact between students and real-world sponsors in the manufacturing sector. Students work with a specific manufacturing entity in order to understand its capabilities. Research is conducted in the field and shared within the classroom to enhance the understanding of the realities associated with production. Students are challenged to improve their ability to define problems, generate and promote concepts, evaluate their work and offer refinements of solutions. In short, they will learn to derive inspiration from the material world and marketplace while simultaneously bringing inspiration to it.
ID form emphasizes the cognitive and the technical skills necessary to manipulate material for the accurate three-dimensional communication of design intent. Projects focus on understanding the relationship of materials, manufacturing processes, products and the user.
ID Digital Drawing
This visualization course develops more advanced analog and digital visualization techniques, while expanding on graphic and three-dimensional components needed to create effective presentations and the workflows to achieve them. Assignments will expose students to various types of digital techniques, using vector and raster-based software applications and a variety of input and output devices for the creation of professional level assignments.
Human Factors Applications
This course emphasizes human characteristics, capabilities and limitations as the primary design criterion in understanding, designing and analyzing systems, displays, controls, tools, and workstations.
Develop the skills needed to effectively develop and communicate design concepts graphically, digitally and three-dimensionally, consistent with professional industrial design practice standards. Emphasis is placed on the development, integration and application of computer aided design skills throughout the assignments, utilizing the relationship of analog and digital mediums as a means of enriching the design process.
History of Industrial Design
This course explores the history of the industrial design profession as it evolved in response to the Industrial Revolution and industry's need for standardized approaches to aesthetics and design for the end user. Significant designers and their work are reviewed in the context of the economics and politics of the times. This course also surveys the history of modern furniture design from the late 19th Century to the present, including important design movements, individual designers and their significant furniture designs.
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
Junior ID Studio I
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.
Junior ID Studio II
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.
Materials and Processes
This course is designed to help students develop a theoretical understanding and technical competency in materials and processes applications as commonly.
This course provides industrial design students with an introduction to the design and application of graphic elements to objects and environments.
ID Career Planning (WI)
This course is an introduction to the business of design. Field trips, guest lecturers and discussion of current trends help students understand the various employment opportunities for the design professional. Students will explore careers within industrial design and define their professional aspirations. The course will also cover the mechanics of job searching, creating a resume, cover letter, portfolio and interviewing to help prepare for design internships.
CAD Studio Electives‡
LAS Immersion 1, 2
Art History Elective§
An in-depth look at business of design, and employment as a design professional for students beginning the job search. Students will refine their resume, cover letter, and portfolio developed in Professional Practice I as they identify career options through research and networking with professionals in their chosen area. Students will explore the financial and legal aspects of employment in the design business.
ID Senior Capstone I
This is the first course in a two-course sequence in which an industrial design capstone project is developed. Focus is on establishing content, planning, scheduling and research of a capstone project that explores the social elements of design either in a collaborative design process, or in the broader social impact of design decisions. Early stages of capstone development include ideation, concept refinement and evaluation. The capstone project is approved by a faculty committee.
ID Senior Capstone II
This is the second course in a two-course sequence in which an industrial design capstone project is developed. Focus is on finalizing design solution, presenting it in a capstone show, and creating a written document that addresses how the theories and methods used in the project have an impact on the current and future state of design in society. The capstone project is approved by a faculty committee.
Senior ID Studio I
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.
Senior ID Studio II
The application of 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.
LAS Immersion 3
CAD Studio Elective‡
Total Semester Credit Hours
(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.
* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
‡ CAD Studio Elective courses are those designated with studio/lab hours listed in the course description.
§ Art history electives are non-studio courses offered in the College of Art and Design or the College of Liberal Arts that examine the historical aspects of art, design, crafts, photography, or film.
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
• Studio art experience and a portfolio of original artwork are required for all programs in the schools of Art and Design. A portfolio must be submitted. View Portfolio Requirements for more information.
Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in studio art, art history, and liberal arts. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information.
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Related programs or studio art experience in desired disciplines. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information. Summer courses can lead to third-year status in most programs.
The School of Design maintains memberships in a variety of professional organizations, including Industrial Designers Society of America, ACM Siggraph, Society of Environmental Graphic Designers, American Society of Interior Designers, American Institute of Architects, ICOGRADA, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and International Interior Design Association.