Design Cluster Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

Graduate level courses are offered in the following three core areas that aim to provide significant training in formal, methodological and design approaches.

CORE AREA 1: Human Centered Design

The goal of this core area is for students to obtain training in the many stages of the design process with an emphasis on better understanding users, tasks and goals. The courses use design process as a systematic way for making decisions about the design, development and deployment of new artifacts or systems.
Example courses include:

  • DSGN 401-1: Human Centered Design Studio, Product Design
  • COMM ST 395 / EECS 395: Technology and Human Interaction
  • LS 425: Introduction to Design for Learning Environments
  • LS 429: Design of Learning Environments
  • PSY 495: Design of Visual Information Displays
  • PSY 495: Insight, Problem Solving and Creativity
  • MTS 495 / EECS 495: Designing Gesture-Based Interaction
  • MTS 525 / EECS 495: Social Interactions Online
  • COMM ST 525: Theories and Practice of Computer Mediated Communication
  • MTS 512: Technology and Organizing
  • DSGN 492: Designing and Leveraging Organizational Networks

CORE AREA 2: Computational Thinking and Computational Design

The goal of this core area is for students to obtain training in the many ways of applying and using computation to support design research. This involves algorithmic thinking, computational simulation and modeling, and state-of-the-art statistical and computational methods for design. A number of these approaches derive from thinking computationally, by which we mean both the use of computation as a vocabulary for understanding design phenomena—what is often referred to as “computational thinking” —but also the use of computation as a tool for thinking, analyzing, and decision making.

Example courses include:

  • MECH ENG 341: Computational Methods for Engineering Design
  • MECH ENG 441: Engineering Optimization for Product Design and Manufacturing
  • SESP 495: Digital Design for Social Change
  • COMM ST 525 / IEMS 441 / MTS 525: Social Network Theories and Methods
  • BMD ENG 495: Computational Neuromechanics and Neuroethology

CORE AREA 3: Design Skills and Methods

The goal of this core area is for students to obtain the practical skills that are needed for design-based research. The courses in this core area aim to provide the fellows with skills and techniques for performing user-based empirical evaluations (both qualitative and quantitative) of their designs as well as practical skills in areas such as prototyping, scenario design, etc.

Example courses include:

  • MTS 590: Communication Design
  • COMM ST 495: Applied Research Methods for Technology and Social Behavior
  • LS 495 / EECS 495: Tangible Interaction Design
  • Theatre 442: Studies in Theatre Practice: Research for Designers
  • JOUR 490: Collaborative Innovation in Media and Technology

Design Research

The Design Cluster program will be supported by a research agenda that studies pertinent research questions and develops the knowledge and methods to address them. Rather than conceiving of Design research as an interdisciplinary area, it is more advantageous to view Design as a discipline in itself that can combine knowledge from other disciplines, akin to the concept of medicine as a discipline. A design research agenda can then be perceived as an interdisciplinary activity, not a summation of disciplinary challenges.  The design research agenda will help to nurture and sustain the culture of innovation and fuel our educational mission with new methodologies and ways of thinking. 

Examples of design research topics include:

  • Exploration of the intersection and interaction of people, products, and systems;
  • Reconciliation of the creative, holistic thinking of the arts with the analytical, decomposed thinking of the sciences;
  • Methods to enhance interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, knowledge capture, and reuse across disciplines;
  • Design innovation of complex engineered systems;
  • Identification of the characteristics of innovative teams;
  • Exploration of human behavior with, through, and in response to new technologies, and the design of new technologies shaped by this understanding.
  • Methodologies for the design of emerging systems, such as medical and health care systems, energy related products and services, and multi-scale devices and systems;
  • Design of completely new products, services, and systems yet to be conceived; and
  • Interdisciplinary design education including innovation, creativity, teamwork, leadership, entrepreneurship through curricular and extracurricular learning.

In a real sense, design research places design and innovation in a scientific framework. The Design Cluster program will delineate and develop an emerging interdisciplinary field in which students will gain an understanding of the complex relationships between people, products and systems.