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.

2014-2016 academic year

Suhina Agarwal

Education for a Meaningful Existence: Redesign of Education Curriculum and Environment

Suhina pursued bachelors in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Amity University,  India in the year 2014 and is currently enrolled in the Industrial Design Graduate program at RIT. She embarked on the journey of creativity at the age of six when she started learning fine arts and has ever since been fascinated by the world of arts, crafts and design. As a designer, she likes to explore the functions of the products, user-product interaction and the emotional aspects of human-product relationship. She believes that being an Engineer makes her a problem solver and being a designer makes her an experience maker. This mesmerizing combination makes it possible for her to fill in the space between the two expansive spheres using her creative ideas.

Suhina’s thesis deals with using design to improve and enhance the educational experience. This would be done using curriculum redesign, environment modification and implementation of new strategies that would facilitate the newly designed curriculum. She mainly focuses on the primary education and is working with Kindergarten grade. Dissatisfaction from the education system experienced in personal life along with the degrading quality and increasing redundancy in education all over the world motivated her to work in this field. She believes that while technological advancements have changed the way of presenting information in classrooms and the student-teacher relationship, the basic model on which schools and classrooms are based are still the same since the Industrial Revolution. With the rapidly changing times and modernization of the society, the young generation needs to be prepared to face the unforeseen challenges of the future. This can be done by a holistic developement of the child wherein the school, teachers, parents and the community contribute to accomplish this goal.

You can follow her thesis here.

Lara Cardoso Goulart

Do-it-yourself toys for children and parents

Lara Goulart has a Bachelor’s Degree in both Product and Graphic Design from University of Brasilia, Brazil, which gave her a broad perspective of the field. She came to pursue her MFA in Industrial Design at Rochester Institute of Technology in order to immerse herself in a different cultural experience, to observe and design for daily life problems.
Designing for kids at RIT helped her identify her professional aim. Lara is determined to design for children as a way to help leverage their education, providing great learning experiences and improving family’s relationship while they play. She believes that this is the best way to achieve significant improvements to the world.

You can follow her thesis here.

Bradley Dunn

Instruments of Generation

Brad Dunn graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2011 with a degree in Architecture.  Upon returning to school for his MFA in industrial design at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2014, Brad marveled at the similarities and differences between the processes of design in his respective fields. While using similar language and virtual tools, the outputs are often drastically different due to their construction method.
As additive manufacturing continues to advance, we must again develop tools which take full advantage of this construction breakthrough.  I will focus on two major benefits of additive manufacturing; the creation of forms not viable with typical manufacturing processes, and mass-customization.
Generative modeling allows designers to set up parameters from which to address a problem and ideate at a pace previously unattainable.  The solutions may be things not even considered by the designer, and in Brads studies frequently take more organic shapes, which would not be possible using typical manufacturing.  Brad hopes to develop a system which helps designers map out their own process. As we understand our own choices, our greatest instrument of generation, we can begin to pass some of these choices onto the consumer.  Empowering them to bring their own insight and context into the designers work, opening up the true power of customization.

You can follow his thesis here.

David Evenski

HeadStrong: Concussion Prevention through Football Helmet Design

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when the head and brain encounter a rapid back and forth motion. These sudden movements damage brain cells both physically and chemically. A single concussion can be dangerous, however the greatest health risk is the result of repeat concussions. The brain needs time to heal after a concussion, and if a second concussion occurs before the brain is fully healed it could lead to long-term or permanent brain damage, or could be fatal in extreme cases.

Football is among the most popular sports in the United States. In recent years, the National Football League has brought the subject of concussions into the public spotlight. Studies are showing brain damage in professional football players, which have had prolonged and life altering impact on the players physical and mental well-being.

As a result, football programs at youth, high school, and collegiate levels are concerned for the safety of their young adults. In many cases across the U.S., schools and organizations are canceling their football program to eliminate the possibility of children getting seriously injured.

The goal of my thesis, is to provide a solution to the concern of concussions through a football helmet design. By making the game safer, young adults and professional athletes can enjoy the game they love without risking their short-term and long-term health.

You can follow his thesis here.

Juichen Hsu

Bring you back – elder & kids inter-generation design

I am a  designer which want to apply the most possible creative ideas into each project also bring joys to the user. As designing each product, it is essential to study user experience and testing models in order to find the best solution to their need. Also cooperate different culture influence to enrich the broader sense of using experience. I would like to pursuing my goal  is to helping user to have an easier life and enjoy using the product.

As nowadays, elder population grow rapidly years by years. But they didn’t revived similar respect as used to be instead being segregated by our society. It may cause by our inputted stereotype on them and then indirectly influence their self doubt and  confident to connected with the society. Taking the both advantage from the experienced elder and active character from kids , I would like to create a long lasting relationship and bring the elder back to this society base on playground. Which can help elder re-establish their value and sharing their experience with kids( or others) by interacting and playing on this media. In the other hand, children could learn some life lesson and broaden their eye horizon through each distinctive experience they have gain by interact with different elders.

You can follow her thesis here.

Andrew Magee

The Keyboard of the Future: Exploring the Accessibility and Experience of Music

Andrew Magee has the unique combination of both business and industrial design knowledge.  He graduated from St. John Fisher College in 2014 with a BS in Accounting and then began to pursue his MFA in Industrial Design at Rochester Institute of Technology that same year.  He is able to bring a new perspective to the class, considering details such as marketing, financing, and what investors look for in a product.

“For my thesis, I am exploring the experience of music and what I considers to be the keyboard of the future.  I aim to improve the accessibility of musical instruments so that musicians can create music wherever they are.  I strive to improve the keyboard experience through good design while keeping the key features that pianists know and love.  I also want to evolve the concert experience into one that the audience can connect with even more deeply.”

You can follow his thesis here.

Mehrafza Mirzazad

Think circular, Design circular and Apply circular

Mehrafza Mirzazad Barijugh is an award-winning New York-based design director, activist, and storyteller. She is the founder of Heart Brain System, a multidisciplinary studio focused on social and environmental system scale design and change, and the creative director of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Title IX-sponsored #YESMEANSYESNY campaign. 

As a leading strategist and system thinking designer, Mehrafza is a passionate visual designer who anchors her work in theories of circular economy, change, and empathy. 

You can follow her thesis here.

Jianlin Nie

Oral hygiene system design

I graduated and got my bachelor degree of industrial design from Tongji University in China at 2014. Then I continued my study and exploration of industrial design at RIT. Studying abroad, especially studying at RIT, broaden my mind and make me an interdisciplinary designer and thinker. This time, for my graduate thesis,  I am also going to combine other fields like medicine and daentistry into my project.

I’m going to design a set of oral hygiene products, including but not limited to toothbrush, toothpick, tooth floss and the package of oral rinses, toothpaste and gum which can potentially make up a system for oral cleaning. And I ‘m also going to explore new interactive ways to provide users with better using experience when cleaning mouth. Those activities regarding to oral hygiene may include rinsing the mouth, brush the teeth, chewing gum and flossing.

Basically, regular oral cleaning is a relaxing activity after waking up in the morning or before going to bed at night which is related to freshening breath, eliminating exhaustion, exercising muscle of mouse. Also it is a daily habit. And the stakeholders include family members, close friends, travel companions, roommates and so on. Generally, it happens at washroom. I find oral hygiene system design interesting because it is a daily activities that concerns almost every moment of life deserves more attention. Also sight, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting are all involved. So there are infinite possibilities for better interaction between human and oral hygiene products.
You can follow his thesis here.

Mariana Pinheiro

Sensorial Communication – an exploration of the user-environment relationship

Mariana Pinheiro is a Brazilian designer passionate about emotional design and playful products. In the year of 2010 she finished her Bachelor’s degree in Product Design and began her career working for the furniture design industry in Brazil. After spending time in the industry, she continued her studies with a Surface Design specialization course. She spent a year and a half studying the impact of colors, textures and patterns in the design world. Mariana is currently pursuing her MFA in Industrial Design at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she is involved in a variety of interdisciplinary projects, many of them related to access technology. She is excited to design fun and quirky products.

“For my thesis I am developing a system of communication devices that will connect people and environments by exploring the user’s senses. The devices will encourage them to be aware of their bodies, minds, and surroundings.

I believe that fun objects are able to bring joy to our everyday lives and I feel passionate about designing objects that will make the users smile J”

You can follow his thesis here.

Trupti Pomaje

Electronic products as a modular system for sustainability

Trupti Pomaje completed her undergraduate studies in Electronics Engineering from Pune university, India.
she is expanding her skills beyond technical field with her masters studies in Industrial Design at Rochester institute of Technology. In her words, ‘ I am the DesignEEr who wants to solve problem with best of both Design and Technical world’.
Her thesis focuses on making the electronic products, laptop and smartphones, sustainable. Today’s world is so much technologically advanced but; products are manufactured where planning after their end of life is not focused very much upon and that is creating more and more E waste which is polluting the environment and will eventually cause scarcity of resources. Her concept is to design these products for longevity. She is working on making smartphones, tablets, laptops as a modular system working together rather than being discrete products and thinning the line between packaging and the product by designing package functioning as a part of a product.

You can follow his thesis here.

Rana Rezaei

Medical Instrument and Devices
Rana Rezaei Started to show interest in design when she was a teenager. She attended to art school and achieved her graphic diploma then she attend to Azad University of Tehran and she was able to receive a bachelor degree in industrial design. Regarding to her dedication to this program she decided to attend to Rochester Institute of Technology to receive further education in her desired field to receive her masters in industrial design.

Rana’s main motive is to discover a solution to everyday used instrument’s problems. Her main focus is in medical instruments to provide a better instrument to both health care workers and patients. Although the innovation in medical tools industry is skyrocketing and manufacturers have new instruments to offer everyday, Rana realized that there is still room to improve such devices and tools that are being used in medical field, whether this improvement is for safety or better outcome in its operation.

You can follow her thesis here.

Kurtis Unruh-Kracke

Healing Space Design

You can follow his thesis here.

Yuhan Wei

Product of encourage emotional interaction

Yuhan Wei graduated from Beijing Forestry University in 2014 with a degree in Furniture Design. She is Chinese born and bred, now residing in United States. Her unique style is keeping her design work minimal and clean taking an emotional approach. Her personal quote is “design can bring positive attitude to our lives even change our lifestyle.”
She used to design primarily furniture, but since studying at Rochester Institute of Technology majoring in industrial design graduate program, she has more enthusiasm about emotional and interaction design.

These days more and more people use digital technology and social media in daily life. In a Chinese study, prevalence of digital addiction and its association with stressful life events and psychological. For example, more people are prefer to stay at home and connect with outside world just through the internet and some digital devices. No amount of emails, voice messages, phone calls or texts will keep us in an abundant state of awareness. Only the presence of mind, only the courage to Be. Here. Now. will unleash us from our digital addiction.

I feel like there is need to focus on emotional approach when I design some products which can encourage people to communicate or interact in reality. It’s always easier tackling addictions when you are not alone. So in this circumstance, I will create interesting scenario which can bring people together and have some fun experience. Maybe in this way, it can motivate people to communicate with each other in reality. And motivate people to feel the real world around them and focus on their perception (more about emotional need).

You can follow her thesis here.

Elissa Jae Kyung Yi

Travel Design

After graduating Kaywon high school of Arts, Elissa studied Fine Art at Seoul Women’s University in Seoul and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In the course of time she had interests of design and realized the differences of the processes of it between her fields. It led her to continue her education as an Industrial Design Student (MFA) at Rochester Institute of Technology.
About her thesis, it is about travel design because travel is one of the most popular trends and lifestyles lately; it has become a prevalent part of our life. The tourism market is getting bigger, and the evolution of transportation and technological advances has made the price of travel lower so the young generation can enjoy a journey these days. However, every traveler have many difficulties during their journey; it happens all the time and makes them unhappy, the project is focused on how a short trip can be more beneficial and fun all the time during the journey and also how it can become one of the happiest lifestyle for them.

You can follow her thesis here.

Han Zhang

Health joy of lunch

Han Zhang got her bachelor degree from Beijing University of Technology in 2014 majored in industrial design. Because of the passion of industrial design and the curiosity of the advanced design thought in the United States, Han decided to go further in industrial design area and to get MFA at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2014. Han Trying to solve some daily problems by using the combination of Eastern and Western design thought.

Because the very fast rhythm and really tight schedule on working day, people always have some limited of their lunch, like time limited or environment limited. Lunchtime is not only a period we can eat lunch but also an important break for our tired brain. Different from have dinner with family, as for the working people or student, they always eat lunch with their colleague or friends. It makes lunch have more social meaning for us.
My thesis is focus on provide both physical and mental healthy lunch to working people and college students, try to remain the important of lunch and provide good networking and relax experience to them.

You can follow her thesis here.

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