Chair: Sharon Anderson-Gold, Science and Technology Studies
Chair: Mark Steiner
The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences offers a major program called Design, Innovation and Society (DIS). The program offers a B.S. degree in DIS as well as the opportunity to dual major in Mechanical Engineering or Management, as well as in other curricula.
DIS prepares students to become innovative designers capable of developing and designing the advanced products and technologies for the 21st century. Built around a design studio during seven of eight semesters, DIS combines the technical, aesthetic, and cultural sophistication of Rensselaer’s engineering or management curricula with the insight and vision of the humanities and social sciences disciplines in the DIS curriculum.
Through the DIS core of design studios, students obtain a hands-on opportunity that brings together the major curricula. The accredited mechanical engineering curriculum combined with DIS can provide a fundamental education in mechanical engineering with a focus on design methodology in general and mechanical design techniques in particular (see sample template below). The management curriculum can also provide a fundamental education in management with course offerings in product design, marketing, and entrepreneurship if combined with DIS. The DIS curriculum provides a fundamental education in the historical, ethical, cultural, and policy dimensions of product development and innovation, including numerous case studies of successes and failures through which students learn what it takes to be effective leaders of design teams, as well as hands-on education in the design studios. On this basis, the design studies help students explore and develop their creativity while building a portfolio of design experiences continuously throughout all four years.
The design experiences range over a breadth of problems, from larger systemic problems to smaller focused problems, so that students have broad exposure to all the different applications of design practice. Some fall and spring semester studios are taught as a sequence to give students experience with the design process from beginning to implementation. The studios also develop students’ skills in using computers and other advanced tools and techniques, as well as in drawing, visualizing, communicating, and working together. In short, the program’s design aspects provide the elements necessary to put students’ creativity to work as leaders of design and innovation, whether it is in a multinational business at the cutting edge of the global market or in a smaller business that creates an unusual solution to a local problem.