Rose-Hulman’s highly innovative engineering design major is preparing to graduate its first cohort of ten students. The new major, which began in the fall of 2018, is a multidisciplinary and practical study program focused on the design process. Students complete design challenges for real-world clients beginning in their first term on campus and complete six different design studios by the end of their freshman year.
Engineering design students begin the product design process during their first term on campus. For this cohort of students, this included designing a toy for children with disabilities. During their spring term, the students combined coding and censors in their design. Engineering design majors participate in co-ops during their junior year and then create a multidisciplinary capstone project as seniors. Students choose a major in entrepreneurship, electrical or computer engineering, or manufacturing.
One of the design projects was the creation of a bedtime buddy for children with cognitive disabilities. Students constructed a penguin stuffed animal with voice recordings to help children complete their bedtime routine process. When the kid finished a task, like brushing their teeth, they patted the penguin on the head and the buddy gave the next set of instructions. The bedtime buddy was featured at a Rose design show and was so impressive that a senior design team took the toy and continued to develop it.
During their final studio, the students were tasked with creating an app for use in a different culture. The cohort has designed a companion app for the popular Animal Crossing video game in Japan. As part of the project, they worked with students from Kanazawa Institute of Technology in Japan to test the app and receive feedback.
While there are colleges that offer similar master’s degree programs or second major options, Rose-Hulman is one of the only schools to offer this innovative and hands-on major to undergraduate students.
“What impressed me about the students is that they really want to make a difference and design things to help people,” says Patricia Brackin, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering, program director of the major in engineering design.
Artemis Ely is part of the first cohort of engineering design graduates. Ely, who considers himself a “jack of all trades”, was drawn to the major for its multidisciplinary approach and it allowed him to develop his diverse interests in a way that can benefit society. After graduating, Ely will work as an associate consultant at Resultant, a software consulting firm in Indianapolis.
“The Technical Design program really prepared me for this job, as it helped me develop my technical and programming skills, but also developed my people skills,” says Eli. “When I spoke with Resultant about my ability to translate between client and engineer and get them to speak the same language, they lit up. That’s exactly what got me this job. and that’s what the major did for me.
Liz Stutz was drawn to the Engineering Design major because of its emphasis on prototyping and building products, while her focus on manufacturing allowed her to develop her skills in statistical quality and Six Sigma analysis. After graduating, Stutz will move to Sturgeon Bay, WI and work for Therma-Tron-X, a company that builds custom automated finishing equipment for manufacturing lines.
Kaia Johnson was drawn to the practical and creative aspect of the major. She enjoyed being part of the first cohort and helping to shape the program going forward. After graduation, she will work with Milwaukee Tool as a quality engineer.
“You really learn to think differently as an engineering design student,” says Johnson. “If people feel they don’t fit into a category or want to do more hands-on design work, this program is the way to go.”