Dear Art and Design Mentors

Dear IDSA Design Educators, NAEA Educators, and Respective Chapter Members,

The primary purpose of the IDSA Design Learning Challenge 2012 is to expose young students to design thinking and create an active awareness of the discipline of industrial design as a career option before students leave high school. College design students all over the United States will be challenged to co-create innovative and participatory design learning experiences with art students in grades 6-12, anchored in design thinking and learning skills. Embracing a Learn.Think.Do approach, each Design Learning Challenge 2012 Team will focus on one of the three submission categories: Design Day Event, Targeted Design Project or Industrial Design Awareness Campaign.

The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is committed "to connecting members to members, business, experts and information" along with "promoting the benefits, awareness and value of design in business and society."

Why Invest in K12 Design?

The focus of this year’s challenge is anchored in a recent research survey regarding the discovery process of the discipline of industrial design. We captured the voice of 250 practitioners, students and educators regarding how and when they realized industrial design was the discipline for them. Most telling of our findings revealed insight into how and when students discovered the discipline. Data indicates 40 percent of the respondents knew of the discipline prior to high school graduation, whereas 40 percent did not discover the field until they had been enrolled in higher education for at least 1-3 years. Of those who were aware prior to high school graduation, 46 percent reported to have been motivated (in respective order) by a relative, art teacher, friend or school counselor. 

The survey findings offer much welcomed perceptive into what resonates within college design students and practitioners today, words that invite one to ponder the global and economic imperatives we face in the 21st Century. The essential question, how can we as a design society effectively invest in our youth? As representative findings, the quotes toward the end of this page help to paint the big picture along with emerging patterns.

How Can We as Educators and Practitioners Become Involved with the Design Learning Challenge 2012?

As a design educator and/or practitioner from the professional community, your role as a mentor would be to provide insightful feedback to your Design Learning Challenge Team. In addition, you may be called on to offer local resources throughout the challenge process.

Fundraising Event
As college design teams plan their Design Learning Challenge projects, they will undoubtably discover the need for additional funds to implement their vision. Chapter-based DLC fundraising events would likely involve participating design students, art educators and art students in grades 6-12.

Design Dialogue Conferences
Design Dialogue Conference organizers may choose to include Design Learning Challenge related activities. Depending on context, perhaps DLC college students could gather as a collective to brainstorm within an informal working session to explore common areas of interest, ideas and questions.

The Voice of Design Students Who Discovered Industrial Design Prior to High School Graduation

  • My father worked at the shipyard and would bring blueprints home. As a child I enjoyed looking at the blueprints, as if it were a painting. So technical and so organized. I began drawing a lot in high school...

  • Someone from a local industrial design school gave a talk in my art class and I remember being smitten with the idea of the profession.

  • My school counselor had no idea what industrial design was or where to go to school for it. I discovered industrial design when a school I was looking into for engineering sent a brochure about their industrial design program.

  • I had been a creative child, and even had designed things before I knew about industrial design. As a sophomore I really started looking into what I was interested in and what I wanted to pursue for a college degree. I knew I enjoyed science, music, art, theater, and computer/graphic design and art. I looked into engineering, etc. While researching all of these subjects, I fell upon industrial design, which I really didn't know existed until the moment I found it. Once I did find the discipline, I fervently started looking up companies, organizations and colleges that offered industrial design. This led me to IDSA as well as to apply to many schools that offered industrial design…

  • I've been designing before I knew that designing was. I designed wine glasses, cars, and motorcycles. I showed these to my tech teacher in my junior year and he told me I could do this for a living.

  • I went to my first IDSA event before I graduated from high school to ask questions and see if I was interested.

The Voice of Design Practitioners Who Discovered Industrial Design After Entering College
  • I learned about industrial design during a college class about design history. I remember when I finally found IDSA's website and their definition of industrial design.

  • One of my college friends told me about ID. It was incredible how I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to do. I love to sketch and draw. I imagine things in 3-d and envision how to improve objects in my everyday environment. I had just never encountered the name "industrial design" before, but once I did, it was as though I finally learned my true calling.

  • I had talked to a college counselor numerous times. They kept giving me different programs to look into such as graphic design, advertising, sociology, etc. Finally they said to try industrial design. I walked into the studio to meet with the professor and I knew it was for me immediately.

  • I discovered industrial design after I finished undergrad, having searched for a major that combined physics, psychology, and art. Unfortunately, my professors weren't familiar with the field so I didn't discover it until having a random conversation with a friend of a friend. Had I known, I would've majored in it in undergrad.

  • I had no idea that the field of industrial design even existed until I began working in the high tech industry (this was back in the mid 80's). A coworker at my first job was a recent graduate of a industrial design program. He showed me his senior project and explained the program to me. I thought to myself this seems like a good match for my skill set. After that I made a plan to get my degree in industrial design.

  • I was studying architecture and was unhappy with it. I watched a special on the discovery channel about the design of a weber grill and discovered that "industrial design" was what I wanted to do.