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Form and Function Are the Winners In New MIAD-Marquette Partnership

Marquette University photo

Industrial designers and engineers work very closely together to create the products we use: from toothbrushes to jumbo jets. 

Typically, a designer, well, designs, and then an engineer makes it work – sometimes to the detriment of the aesthetics of the initial design. Form, then function. But if a new collaborative academic program has its way, form and function will evolve together because students from both disciplines will be working more closely throughout the entire process.

The new multidisciplinary curriculum, which is still in the design phase itself, will be offered to students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and at Marquette University’s College of Engineering. 

"We believe that, with the strengths of engineers, and with the strengths of the product designers at MIAD that we can put together a curriculum that is unique," says Robert Bishop, Opus Dean of Engineering at Marquette. "One that industry will look at and say, 'okay, these are the kinds of employees we've been looking for.'"

Bishop says the collaboration is emblematic of the way innovation works in the 21st Century.  "This is how problems are solved," he says.  "They're not solved with engineers first and industrial designers second.  They're done together."

MIAD President Neil Hoffman agrees, and is seeking out local companies to help shape the partnership.  "We're meeting in the next year with the firms that hire engineers and industrial designers and saying, 'What if?'.  'What if you had the opportunity to have an impact on engineering education and design education so that our graduates are better-prepared when they come to you?'"

The new collaboration builds on previous work the two institutions have undertaken together.  The earliest enrollment would begin in this collaborative effort is the 2015-16 academic year.

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.