Industrial Design

Industrial Design


Industrial Design is a process of design applied to products that are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production. It is a mixture of applied art and applied engineering.

Students in the Industrial Design degree program learn problem-solving methodologies, product research, drawing skills (both by hand and by computer), three dimensional model-making techniques, materials, manufacturing processes, ergonomics, design theory, and marketing principles. These skills are applied in the design of many new and innovative products which eventually comprise the student’s portfolio.

Western’s Engineering and Design Department is part of the College of Science and Engineering.

Portrait of Emily Bartlett

“I love this ability to make things—all things! Industrial Design teaches a combination of engineering and art—something that functions deserves to be beautiful.”

Emily Bartlett
Industrial Design Student

Students work on multiple design projects, both individually and in groups, during their Senior year. They will often collaborate with industry and have recently worked with Microsoft and Glosten Associates in the Seattle area. Examples of student work may be viewed in this gallery

Western’s program has a strong reputation in the profession and is NASAD accredited, the only national accrediting association for Industrial Design. The program values hands-on learning about manufacturing processes and materials, not just theory, and offers access to state-of-the-art machines. Students are provided work spaces in a studio environment where they can accomplish their assignments and complete projects.

The facility also has a well-equipped shop for teaching with both wood and metal machinery, and a walk-in paint booth. Additional facilities within the Engineering and Design Department are available to students as they enroll in the respective support courses. These labs include CNC machining, rapid prototyping, FDM 3D printing, injection molding, composite materials, electronics, and soft-tooling labs. 

Beyond the Classroom

Students in the program often join the Western chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA). IDSA provides opportunities by putting on design events, inviting guest speakers, and arranging job shadows with different design firms around the country. 

Internships are strongly recommended as part of a student’s plan of study. Students generally participate in a summer internship. Students have recently interned at:

  • PreCor
  • IDEO
  • Specialized 
  • Fujifilm
  • Bose 
  • Intel 
  • Sonosite
  • Tabar
  • Tether, Inc.
  • General Electric

A study of Industrial Design graduates from 2007-2013 by the Industrial Designers Society of America found that 98% are working as professional designers in their field. 

Careers and Graduate Studies

The Industrial Design major prepares graduates to begin work as practicing designers in corporate, consulting, or entrepreneurial positions. Industrial Design is a highly competitive and professional service of creating and developing concepts that optimize function, value, and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both the user and the manufacturer. 

Employers of Recent Western Graduates: 

  • Astro Studios (San Francisco, CA): Designer 
  • Blendtec (Provo, UT): Designer 
  • Boeing
  • Bose
  • Burn Design Lab 
  • Burton
  • Code and Theory (Manhattan, NY): Junior Industrial Designer 
  • Dakine
  • Fluke
  • Freerange PDX (Portland, OR): Designer 
  • Intel
  • Michael Courtney Design (Seattle, WA): Junior Designer 
  • Microsoft
  • Nike
  • Oculus
  • Pensar
  • Specialized
  • Tabar
  • Tactile
  • Tether 

Sample Jobs

  • Industrial Designer
  • User Experience Designer
  • Director of Product Development
  • Staff Designer
  • Design Consultant
  • Research and Strategy
  • Entrepreneur

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.