Apr 13, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2023-2024 
Rensselaer Catalog 2023-2024

Design, Innovation, and Society/Mechanical Engineering

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The Design, Innovation, and Society (commonly referred to as DIS) bachelor’s degree program provides creative, socially conscious students a broad education in design and can be pursued as a dual major with Mechanical Engineering. Offered by the Department of Science and Technology Studies, the program adopts a social-scientific approach to design that integrates creative, technical, and organizational/entrepreneurial dimensions. This unique bachelor’s program includes project-based design studios, discussion-focused seminar courses, and a cumulative senior project that integrates all aspects of the student’s education. 

In the DIS studio sequence, students address real-world social and environmental challenges with innovative products, services, systems, and environments. Students also learn about the diversity of design professions and their place within them. Seminar courses facilitate systematic exploration of the many intersections among science, technology, design, and society. Students explore personal, professional, and social values throughout their coursework. The curriculum prepares graduates to work effectively in a variety of job settings, including design consultancies, non-profits, corporate contexts, start-ups, educational institutions, and government research agencies. Graduates are also prepared to enter graduate programs in design, social sciences, engineering, environmental studies, and management.  

The DIS curriculum entails a sequence of 10 courses (40 credits) that include the design studio sequence (20 credits), seminars (16 credits), and the senior project (4 credits). The course sequence when paired with Mechanical Engineering is outlined below. 

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum 

Upon successful completion of the DIS program, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • formulate design problems, based in social-science research, that challenge conventional assumptions and respond to root causes. 
  • analyze and apply design methods that identify key factors (e.g., economic, technical, environmental, cultural, etc.) that shape problems and potential solutions. 
  • realize innovative design concepts through visual representations, physical prototypes, and user testing. 
  • collaborate with diverse stakeholders throughout the design process. 
  • write and present effectively about their understanding of complex social problems and how those problems can be addressed through thoughtful, socially conscious design solutions.   

First Year



Second Year


Third Year

The Arch Summer Semester*

*For students who have applied for and been granted an exception, The Arch Summer courses would be taken during the fall semester. For listing of the exception process go to: http://info.rpi.edu/arch/students/#ExceptionProcess.

Fourth Year


  • STS Advanced Option Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnotes 1, 2, and 10 below)


  • STS Advanced Option Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnotes 1 and 2 below)


  1. These six courses satisfy the 24 credits of the HASS Core.
  2. These required courses may be taken in any order in the academic year shown (or in a previous year) given the prerequisites are met.
  3. Choice of ENGR 1200 , ENGR 1400 , or CIVL 1200 ; EG and CAD is preferred for Mechanical Engineers. 
  4. These courses are options that may be taken in the Arch Summer semester (if the summer schedule permits).
  5. Choose from ENGR 2050  and MANE 2220 ; both have Professional Development I embedded in them.
  6. Students must take two DIS Studio Advanced Options. DIS Studio A, DIS Studio B, and DIS Studio C; each satisfy one DIS Studio Advanced Option. Students dual-majoring with the School of Engineering must select ENGR 4610  as one of their DIS Studio Advanced Options.
  7. Choose from DIS Studio A (Summer only) or DIS Studio B (Fall only).  Either of these options will satisfy the School of Engineering requirement for the STSO 4100  requirement.
  8. If the student chooses to be away spring junior year, ENGR 4610  will move to Spring of senior year, and ENGR 1600  and an STS Advanced Option will move to Fall of the junior year.
  9. These laboratory courses may be taken any semester in the junior or senior year, provided all prerequisites have been completed.
  10. Any STSO 4000-level course with the exception of STSO 4600 STSO 4610  , STSO 4970 , STSO 4980 , and STSO 4990  .
  11. Computation and Technical Electives for DSIS+MECL Dual Majors
    • The Computation Elective must be chosen from the following list of courses:  MANE 4280  , MANE 4240  , or MTLE 4500 .

    The first Technical Elective must be taken from any upper-level (4000 or above) MANE course or ENGR 4710  or ENGR 4720  . ENGR 4710  is recommended for DSIS+PDI dual majors.
    The second Technical Elective is satisfied by ENGR 4610  (Spring only).
    • Computational and Technical Electives may not be taken on a Pass/No Credit basis.

  12. Mechanical Engineering students may alternatively take MANE 4220 , MANE 4230 , MANE 4850, or alternative capstone design experiences, provided all prerequisites have been completed.

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