The Industrial Design MFA at the Rochester Institute of Technology is an interdisciplinary, multinational program focused on design foundations and guided exploration. The faculty represent a diverse range of industry and academic backgrounds, providing students balanced exposure to applied research and human-centered processes. The course of study emphasizes progressive skill sets, a rich variety of projects, and design with meaningful intent. MFA candidates are challenged to develop individualized approaches to design through collaboration with students and faculty across the university. Industry partnerships factor heavily into coursework, grounding conceptual design in production-oriented outcomes. Recent and ongoing partnerships include the Corning Museum of Glass, Arc of Monroe, Loll, Autodesk, GE, Herman Miller, and Fabrica. Examples of current graduate students’ work are provided below.

Reema Aldossari

Improving organization at donation


People recovering from natural disasters or
refugee-related relocation benefit from goods
donated at collection center. However, they are
faced with obstacles because the donation process
itself needs considerable time and a massive effort
in order to create a useful donation source.
Volunteers are also needed to help in this project,
as well as having a large space that would adjust
the required donation source.

Priyanka Bran

Terra: earthen refrigerator

Every kilowatt-hour of electricity you use results in
the emission of 2.34 pounds of carbon dioxide gas
into the atmosphere. Your refrigerator can cause as
much as 550 pounds of CO2 pollution every month.
Not all the answers to life’s needs have to come
with a plug and instruction book.

Yi Feng

Connecting the lonely across


In the present age, long-distance relationships play
an increasingly important role in people’s daily
lives. How might we design a better way to help
people who live away from other family members
from suffering loneliness? At the beginning, I point
out the exist long-distance relationship problem and
the reason why older adults need help will be
discuss. I claim the importance of solving long-
distance relationship issues, and list the potential
problems caused by physical separation and
loneliness. In order to address these situations,
products may encourage users to make more
connections or to improve communication
experiences. As a result, helping elders to build
better bonding over long-distance relationship while
also maintaining a healthy life.


Shih-Hsuan Huang

Smart devices at the table: explorations

on snubbing

Because smart device is so powerful, it already
becomes part of our life. People would use it no
matter where or when. During interaction with
others, like eating with friends, there is interruptions
when checking smart device, making others feel
not appreciated. This pattern is defined as phubbing.
In order to deal with the phenomenon of
phubbing happening during dining, this design
project provides three designs that focus on
different perspectives. These designs include the
use of smart devices as part of formal dining
experience, breaking the distraction reaction at the
moment, and keeping the interaction and eating
only while eating. All the designs are approached
through physical interaction with different materials
in order to decrease relying on smart device, and
will arrange the user testing after prototype making
to test these ideas to see how these ideas work.

Michael Kelly

Welcome Home: Guiding Refugees

through Life in Rochester

In 2016, US government resettlement and secondary
migration brought 850 new refugees here. In 2017,
that number is expected to pass 1,000. When refugees
are resettled in the United States, the first
three months of casework and assistance are
provided by a federally-funded resettlement
organization. After these months, however,
refugees are removed from the resettlement
service’s caseload. Sponsors are average citizens
who, on their own accord, reach out to refugee services

in the area and agree to help one or more refugee

families. Currently, sponsors receive no formal
training and are recruited by word-of-mouth.

Welcome Home Rochester is an organization to
attract, train, and support citizen sponsors of refugees.
The website, branding package, and video content are
designed to inform and train volunteers in coordination
with other local non-profits.
with other local non-profits.

Nik Miclette

Changing Perceptions: Wrist Guard

Efficacy in Snowboarding

In 2014 there was an estimated 15 million
snowboarders worldwide. Like many extreme
sports there is always the possibility of injury.
Extensive research has shown snowboarders
sustain more wrist injuries than any other sport in
the world. In particular beginner or novice
snowboarders are the most susceptible to injury
and often times wear no protective gear when first
learning. Although there has been research into the
efficacy of upper extremity protection in
snowboarding, a universal standard has yet to be
developed to judge current wrist protection by. Due
to this fact my thesis explores innovative ways to
reinvent the wrist guard through the lenses
of a designer concerned with the socio-ergonomic
issues of current wrist guard protection. Throughout
my thesis I’ll be exploring ways that design can
encourage wrist protection use with in the beginner
snowboard community.

Spar Patton

Learning to Ride: Developing an

Assistive Device for Two Wheel


Learning how to ride a bicycle is one of the short
moments in life. The freedom and excitement
unlocked by this combination of human power and
mechanical advantage expands the capabilities of
the body. Whether relied on for commuting or
leisure, cycling has proven physiological and
psychological health benefits, allows us to connect
with our immediate environment, and provides a
foundation for community participation and
connectivity. However, some children are born with
or acquire physical and/or cognitive disabilities that
make learning how to ride a bicycle a different kind
of challenge. This project will establish bicycling as
an integral part of childhood development and the

challenges and rewards associated with learning

the activity. It will go on to propose a framework
that makes learning how to ride a bike more
accessible to children of varying abilities.

Elizabeth Stegner

American Teenage Vision and the Value of Cool

One quarter of American youth have a treatable but
uncorrected vision problem, the vast majority of
which could be remediated with a simple pair of
eyeglasses. However, even when kids and
teenagers are prescribed glasses, many do not
wear them. This paper questions why this problem –
which has a seemingly straightforward solution and
clear benefit to addressing – has not been dealt
with. First, it discusses current literature and
qualitative research on the prevalence of eye care
issues globally and in the United States. It then
narrows in on how American teenagers specifically
are impacted by the problem. Finally, it suggests a
redesign of eyeglasses categorically for this
demographic to remediate many of the issues with
those on the market today.


Wenjing Qi

Redesign of Ming – Style Furniture

To develop a series of Ming-style furniture to match
modern aesthetic standards, make them more
popular all around the world.


Kaining Qiu

Minimizing unpleasant experience for

women in public restrooms

Why do women always spend more time in public
restrooms, men always ask? Why do they always
complain about the experience of using them each
time they get out? This paper concludes former
research conducted on the difference of females
and males in restrooms use, points out the reason
for extra time might be women taking more time in
elimination process and performing multiple tasks
inside restroom, and demonstrates how regulations
in a few places and in the International Building
Code have changed accordingly from a 1:1 women-
men ratio to a 2:1 or even higher one. At the same
time, the overall cleanliness of the environment the
privacy inside restroom also have either direct or
indirect effect on how women behave and feel
inside the public restrooms, as some former
research and author’s research suggest. Designs
concerning this issue like standing urination
products, Squatty-Potty, Japanese public
restroom… are presented. Other options like
gender-neutral restrooms and family restrooms are
also investigated on how to provide inspiration to
address this problem. Improvement and recent
setbacks in legislation are discussed. Finally, by
arguing that most of the research is out of date and
most of the regulations and designs are in lack of
studies to support, this design proposal proposes
that: first, further study is needed on what
contribute to the unpleasant experience women
undergoing in public restrooms and how it could be
applied to the redesign and re-plan of the public
restrooms, thus a fundamental research base could
be provided for legislators, designers and
architects; second, a Clean, Comfortable and
Private Public Restroom System, which offers a
solution in both functional need and emotional
need, could be applied in public restrooms to
minimize women’s unpleasant experience.


Jiahe Tian

Repackaging experience of multi-

component products

We face various kinds of products everyday. We
see them, we buy them, and we use them.
Products go through different processes before
they are put down onto our hands.
We as consumers received items with the first
behavior as taking the items out from the packages
around them. However, products may not always
satisfy our needs and expectation once we see
them, or even worse, there are some errors
occurring with what we order and the real products
we receive. Often when we face such situations, we
form the thought of returning or changing whatever
we receive. Products, especially products with multiple
components usually give consumers a hard time
doing the repackaging job. Numerous parts of
different shapes are difficult to be packaged
together in a limited space. This concern comes
from that for manufacturers, packages are made in
a specific size in order to save materials and space.
However, for consumers, once the products are
taken out, all the parts will lose their positions. It
is almost impossible for consumers to repackage
what they want to deal with into the original box
safe and sound. I will be working on the topic given
below to improve the repackaging experience and
make packages more versatile and consumer

Huiyu Yang

Sustainable furniture for schools

The furniture is an essential product in our life, in
work place, at home, at schools. How to properly
deal with the used furniture is a massive problem to
our environment. By taking the school furniture as a
tool to educate people live in a sustainable life.

Yue Zhang

Painting system for people with limited vision

Because painting is very much a visual medium to
create art and state obvious, having sight is
significant when it comes working as a painter. It is
easy to imagine that blindness would end the
dream of become a painter. There are artists who
are blind but use ingenious methods to paint art
pieces. But even if these artists can paint, they still
cannot see their artworks. The problem is then how
to help people who are blind to easily paint and
to“see” a world of color with other senses except
sight. After hands-on experimentation, three major
problems were identified: how to locate where to
draw; how to locate where is previous drawings;
how to choose a desired color. This proposal
will focus on, to helping people to draw pictures easily
through painting tools design without relying on
their sight. The purpose of the project is to
encourage people to draw the world with color and
shapes that are in their imagination and to
communicate them to the world.


Runhao Zhao

Preparing healthy meals at the office

The purpose of this study is to explore the
psychology, nutrition and behaviors that influence
people’s cooking habits. Recently, all sectors of
community are spaying increasingly more attention
on the health of office workers in order to improve
their quality of life during a busy work day. The
study seeks to answer the research question: how
to help office workers prepare a quick and healthy
meals? The goal is to support the ideation of
designing a smart kitchen system for office workers
to cook at office and enjoy their fresh meals.


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