Learn more about Craig Vogel.
Can you talk a bit about the benefits of having an internship while in school?
We do not admit students by portfolio. We use the university admissions process of academic performance. In high schools today there aren’t a lot of classes one can take that would necessarily be a good preparation for design. There aren’t many art classes. There aren’t many shop classes or architecture classes in high school. Our students have come in with a very high academic standing. We run them through a very rigorous first two years to prepare them to go out and do co-op. We make sure that they can go into a professional setting and make a contribution. That required us to accelerate the content of our foundation and second-year courses to include more than other design programs. The program takes five years to complete.
After the second year our students will work in alternating co-ops during the rest of the program. The most successful students pick a theme and companies they want to work in and get an excellent exposure to the information they need to start their career. Some students just experiment and think of every co-op as a new experience. The ones that tend to be more strategic will often get hired by their co-op employer.
With that said, what are the characteristics or qualities that make a successful industrial designer?
There are several qualities we expect a design student to have when they graduate. The first is to have a set of skills and methods that allow a designer to conduct research and translate insights into products and services. These include visualization methods from sketching to 3D modeling to desktop modeling to rapid prototyping. Students need to have excellent qualitative ethnographic consumer research skills and human factors knowledge from anthropometry to ergonomics. Designers must also be able to minimize environmental impact and design products that follow the concepts of “cradle to cradle.” Successful designers work effectively in multidisciplinary teams. And designers need to understand current and emerging trends.
What’s driving the designers to pursue business skills these days?
There are two major reasons for the trend to learn more about business and take courses in marketing. The first is the fact that designers interact with business functions in the development of products. In order to be effective in consultancies or in-house design groups, designers need to be able to communicate their ideas to marketing, sales, and upper management. It is also important for designers seeking to become managers. The second is for entrepreneurial purposes. Many designers seek to start their own companies and or market their own products. Many students want to start companies right after graduation. Business courses give them the ability to better understand how to start a business and get products to market.
[ … ]
If you were starting off now, what advice would you give yourself?
Plan for the next five years of your life because you cannot plan for many more than that these days. Find out a unique combination of abilities that you have, that no one else has. Be prepared to morph throughout your career as shifts in trends occur and new opportunities open. Do not worry if you end up doing something that is not called industrial design.
[ … ]