Apr 01, 2023  
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018 
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018 [Archived Catalog]

Design, Innovation, and Society

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Program Coordinator: Dean Nieusma

The Design, Innovation, and Society (DIS) curriculum teaches inspired, hands-on design as well as the cultural, ethical, historical, and policy dimensions of design, providing insight into a wide range of potential opportunities for innovation. The core of the DIS curriculum is a sequence of design studios, where students gain experience conceiving, developing, and iterating real-world solutions to the problems facing humanity today. The DIS studio sequence entails seven design studios, which span the social sciences, engineering, business management, and creative design. A parallel sequence of five courses focuses on the social dimensions of design, technology, and innovation. Together, these course sequences help students explore and develop their creative problem solving skills while building a portfolio of design experiences continuously throughout all four years of their education.

DIS students are encouraged to pursue dual majors in one of several areas of specialization, all of which are achievable in a standard eight-semester time frame. The DIS program has customized curricula for dual majors with Mechanical Engineering, Business Management, and Communication. For technically oriented students, the dual major in Mechanical Engineering provides an ABET-accredited education in engineering with a focus on design methodology in general and mechanical design techniques in particular. For students interested in business, the dual major in Business Management teaches business theory and practice, with course offerings in product design and development, marketing, and entrepreneurship. For students interested in creative design, the dual major in Communication (with a concentration in graphic design) teaches communication and visual theory and hands-on skills in print and electronic media. DIS students also pursue dual majors in a range of other areas of specialization, including Computer Science, Industrial and Management Engineering, and Sustainability Studies among many others.

DIS provides all the elements necessary to put students’ creativity to work as leaders of design and innovation, whether it is in a multinational corporation at the cutting edge of the global marketplace, a start-up business venture that creates a unique solution to an important problem, or working with educators and activists at the grassroots to promote social or environmental transformation.

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum
Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:

  • describe and employ various stages of the design-and-innovation process, from initial research to new concept generation and on to implementation.
  • integrate social, technical, and formal analysis in the design of innovative product, service, and system concepts.
  • identify and characterize key stakeholders surrounding technology innovation generally and in relation to specific design concepts.
  • conduct design and social-science research into the expectations, experiences, and practices of technology users and other stakeholders.



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