MIAD and Marquette to collaborate on curriculum for industrial design

The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) and the Marquette University College of Engineering are pursuing a collaborative curriculum model that will excel in educating design and engineering students to meet the multidisciplinary challenges of the global marketplace.

The collaboration across the two independent institutions may be the first of its kind in the nation.

“Hundreds of the most competitive and renowned international companies based in the United States already recognize that the multidisciplinary traits of the modern world require cross-disciplinary solutions; especially creative, sophisticated design solutions and a strategic interface between designers and engineers,” said Neil Hoffman, MIAD president.

“No matter if I’m meeting with an engineering dean from South America or a CEO of a multinational engineering firm, it’s clear the world faces complicated global challenges,” said Robert Bishop, P.E., Opus Dean of Engineering at Marquette. “The partnership between Marquette and MIAD will help produce more creative and collaborative graduates with the skills needed to develop solutions for these pressing issues.”

The new program will build on the success of the annual semester-long collaboration between Marquette’s biomedical engineering students and MIAD’s industrial design students, along with the two institutions’ longstanding partnerships with leading industries.

The curriculum proposal for the new collaborative design environment will be completed in two years. The first year is funded by $75,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and $125,000 from an anonymous donor. MIAD and Marquette will raise an additional $200,000 in matching funds to support the second year of study, which includes sharing the finished proposal with the governing boards at each institution for consideration and working toward its strategic implementation. Enrollment could begin the 2015-2016 academic year.

“Dean Bishop and I are deeply grateful to our funders for sharing our vision to elevate our graduates’ and our region’s global competitiveness,” said Hoffman.

“It’s clear that both MIAD and Marquette students have benefited from working together. Finding a way to formalize and expand that opportunity fits with Marquette’s strategic plan to offer a personally transformative education and to collaborate across disciplines,” said Bishop. “To our knowledge, this kind of cross-institutional collaboration has never been done before.”

MIAD Trustee Robert Schwartz, head of global design & user experience at GE Healthcare – a company that partners academically with both MIAD and Marquette – said, “At GE, we begin every design process with a complete team of stakeholders, from industrial designers to engineers, marketers and more. Being able to hire industrial designers and engineers who have been educated through an integrated curriculum would increase a company’s global advantage by allowing access to a talent force even more adept at bringing innovative solutions to market. I look forward to working with MIAD and Marquette on creation of this strategic curriculum, and foresee steep competition for its graduates.”

The concept of Design Thinking was explored in depth in a recent BizTimes cover story. “Design Thinking For Manufacturers” will be the theme of the BizTimes Manufacturing Summit.

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