Carnegie Mellon Design Essay

Terry Irwin, Head
Office: Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall 110
http://design.cmu.edu

Design at Carnegie Mellon

Design is the thoughtful activity that humanizes our environment through visual communication and the shaping of products that help us in our daily lives. Whether in magazines and books, posters and exhibitions, video and film, human-computer interactions, or any of the myriad of everyday products such as furniture, consumer goods, vehicles, or medical equipment, designers play an important role in shaping the form and content of our experience.

Designers are concerned with aesthetics, but they are equally concerned with serving people. This requires more than skill in the fine arts. It also requires knowledge about the needs, desires, expectations, and capabilities of human beings. It requires skills of observation and interpretation that help us understand the people that we want to serve. More than this, however, designers must also understand the technological issues that stand behind effective products. They must understand the materials, tools, and production processes of the modern world. An education in design is an education for the mind as well as the eye and hand.

The undergraduate program enables students to develop specialized skills in the areas of Product (Industrial) Design, Communication (Graphic) Design and Environments (design for physical and digital environments), while providing them with a solid foundation in design studies. Students study systems thinking; the ability to see and solve problems at multiple levels of scale, and situate their work within larger social and environmental contexts.

The over-arching theme of the curricula is design for interactions, which acknowledges that ‘ecologies’ of products and communications often come together within complex physical and digital environments. Coursework balances making and theory with the integration of new, emergent technologies. Students are encouraged to explore the scope of design as well as the responsibility and ethics involved in the design of interactions between people, the built world, and the environment.

The curriculum is one that provides students with the ability to customize their degree: they may choose to specialize in one of three areas offered (Products, Communications, Environments), but also have the option of combining any two, to create a unique, interdisciplinary design degree.

The undergraduate curriculum also introduces students to three important areas of design focus: design for service, design for social innovation and transition design. These represent both new and established design approaches to framing and solving problems. In their senior year, students bring their disciplinary specialty (communications, products or environments) to projects that are situated within the areas of design for service and/or design for social innovation.

The School offers a Bachelor of Design with tracks in Communications, Products, or Environments.

Communications

The ability to communicate and shape meaning is one of the most powerful and ubiquitous forms of design in today’s world. Students learn to design effective communications across a wide variety of media that always exist within complex webs of interactions between people, products, and environments. Areas of study include narrative and storytelling, information design, and a variety of analog and digital visualization techniques. Students develop the ability to identify specific audiences and communicate to them through effective visual, verbal and aural communications that educate, inform and delight. 

They study the dynamic and ‘emergent’ characteristics of communications in a globally networked society where technologies and modes of individual and mass communication are constantly changing. Students learn systems thinking and engage in an iterative, multi-disciplinary and collaborative design process that involves research, observation, prototyping and rigorous evaluation. Students develop the ability to identify and communicate to specific audiences through effective visual and verbal communications that educate, inform, delight and invite participation.

Products

Students learn to design products and their interactions within the context of human needs and they develop a deep understanding of the ways in which products shape behavior. Our curriculum acknowledges that no product exists in isolation—it is always part of a larger system comprised of people, communications and environments. Within the context of design for service, products exist as ‘touchpoints’ in a service ecology. For this reason, students learn systems thinking and engage in an iterative, multi-disciplinary and collaborative design process that involves research, observation, modeling/prototyping and rigorous evaluation. 

Students are introduced to current production and manufacturing processes as well as sustainable approaches, such as cradle-to-cradle, lifecycle analysis and the use of new, more environmentally friendly materials. The School has a well-equipped analog and digital prototyping facility where students work with traditional materials such as wood and metal and learn to design and prototype using CAD software and 3D digital printers.

Environments

Students learn to design for complex environments that exist in the digital, physical and multi-modal realms. Most of the products and communications we interact with are situated within complex physical spaces (our homes, classrooms, places of business, shopping malls, even amusement parks). We also interact with complex online environments such as large websites, social networking and virtual reality environments. And increasingly we interact in ‘smart’ physical spaces with multi-modal communications in a combination of the analog and the digital. 

In our curriculum, environments are seen as integrated and dynamic systems that require the design of interactions at multiple levels of scale. Students acquire a diverse set of skills that includes a deep understanding of spatial relationships, designing with and for emerging, multi-media technologies and an understanding of the cognitive challenges presented by multi-modal spaces. 

Students who focus on the design of environments delve deep into systems thinking and systems dynamics and spend time learning to collaborate and lead within multi-disciplinary teams (solving large problems involving complex spaces almost always involves teams of people from different disciplines).

Design Minor Program

The School also offers a minor in Design for well-qualified students. Further information on the minor program is provided earlier in the catalog.

The Design Curriculum

Minimum units required for Bachelor of Design

The design curriculum is for students who are interested in full-time undergraduate study leading to entry-level professional employment or advanced graduate study in the areas of Communication Design, Product Design, or Design for Environments.  The first year is a period of discovery, where students explore studio projects and supporting courses in the ideas and methods of design practice as well as courses in design studies. The second and third years are a period of concentration and development primarily within the student's area(s) of specialization. The fourth year is a period of integration and advanced study, with studio projects involving teams of students from all areas of design. There are studio courses throughout all four years, supported by departmental electives in the ideas and methods of design practice and other courses in the history, theory, and criticism of design. In addition, the School also requires all students to take a substantial number of general education courses offered by other departments throughout the university. General education is an essential part of the education of a professional designer.

Foundation Year

In their freshmen year, students are introduced to all three areas of design specialty: Product (Industrial), Communication (Graphic) and digital and physical Environments. Here, they explore these unique and complementary areas of design and gain a wide range of skill sets such as systems thinking, iterative process, collaboration and visualization, and work in both two and three dimensional materials as well as digital media. 

At the end of their freshman year, students are given the opportunity to begin to focus their interests in two of three design areas (products/communications/environments) and will eventually decide upon a single area of focus or a dual path of study.

This is the first-year curriculum for all design students.

First Year

Fall
Studio Units
51-101Studio: Survey of Design9
51-103Design Workshop I3
Ideas and Methods Units
51-121Visualizing9
Design Studies Units
51-171Placing9
General Education Units
76-101Interpretation and Argument9
85-102Introduction to Psychology9
99-101Computing @ Carnegie Mellon3
Spring
Ideas and Methods Units
51-122Collaborative Visualizing9
51-132Introduction to Photo Design
1st mini
4.5
51-134Photo Design II
2nd mini
4.5
Design Studies Units
51-172Systems9
General Education Units
79-104Global Histories9

Second Year

Following the first-year program, students select two out of three areas of interest: Products[P], Communications[C], Environments[E]. In the fourth semester students select one of the two areas to study more deeply. Students investigate the relationships people form with designed artifacts and the roles that physical, visual, and digital forms play in our lives. They apply what they learn to the design of products, communications, and environments that facilitate interactions. Students are also required to take general education courses to gain a broad vision of many disciplines and fields of knowledge that are relevant to design.

Second Year

Fall
Studio Units
51-225Communications Studio I: Understanding Form & Context
(Pick two)
4.5, 4.5
or 51-245 Products Studio I: Understanding Form & Context
or 51-265 Environments Studio I: Understanding Form & Context
Ideas and Methods Units
51-227Prototyping Lab I: Communications
(Pick two corresponding labs)
4.5, 4.5
or 51-247 Prototyping Lab I: Products
or 51-267 Prototyping Lab I: Environments
9
Design Studies Units
51-271How People Work9
General Education Units
9
Spring
Studio Units
51-228Communications Studio II: Designing Communications for Interactions9
or 51-248 Products Studio II: Designing Products for Interactions
or 51-268 Environments Studio II: Designing Environments for Interaction
Ideas and Methods Units
51-208Research Methods4.5
51-239Prototyping Lab II: Communications9
or 51-249 Prototyping Lab II: Products
or 51-269 Prototyping Lab II: Environments
Design Studies Units
51-272Cultures4.5
General Education Units
9

Third Year

In the fifth and sixth semesters, students may choose to continue their fourth semester area of focus, or they may choose to study their second area of study from the third semester. Students study how design functions at various levels of scale and degrees of complexity situated in specific contexts. They design products, communications, and environments that function as cohesive systems that live within the built and social worlds.

Third Year

Fall
Studio Units
51-323Communications Studio III: Designing for Complex Communication Systems9
or 51-343 Products Studio III: Designing for Complex Products Systems
or 51-363 Environments Studio III: Designing for Complex Environment Systems
Ideas and Methods (Select one Design Elective) Units
51-321Photographic Narrative9
51-231Calligraphy I9
51-257Introduction to Computing for Creative Practices10
51-349Visual Notation/Journaling9
51-322Advanced Digital Imaging4.5
51-335Mapping and Diagraming9
51-359Tools for UX Design9
51-355Experimental Sketching4.5
51-399Junior Independent StudyVar.
Design Studies Units
51-371Futures9
General Education Units
9
9

Spring
Studio Units
51-330Communications Studio IV: Designing Communications for Social Systems9
or 51-350 Products Studio IV: Designing Products for Social Systems
or 51-360 Environments Studio IV: Designing Environments for Social Systems
Ideas and Methods (Select one Design Elective) Units
51-322Advanced Digital Imaging4.5
51-328Advanced Web Design9
51-334Photography, Community & Change9
51-344Advanced Digital Prototyping6
51-346Production Prototyping6
51-376Semantics & Aesthetics4.5
51-380Experiential Media Design9
51-388Sharing Economies9
Design Studies Units
51-372Persuasion9
General Education Units
9
9

Fourth Year

In the senior year, students work to identify their next steps in professional practice, entrepreneurship, or in academia. They apply their design skills and knowledge to client-based and/or self-defined projects that focus on the design of services or social innovation.

The fall semester features the Design Research Studio, a semester-long project where students work in teams applying skill and knowledge learned in Products, Communications, and/or Environments.  In the spring the Capstone Project challenges students to work independently on a semester-long project, deepening their understanding of service or social innovation design principles.

Fourth Year

Fall
Studio Units
51-481Design Research Studio12
Ideas and Methods (Select one Design Elective) Units
51-379Information+Interaction+Perception9
51-423Pieces 2.0: Social Innovation: Desis Lab9
51-441Foundation of BME Design6
51-451Fundamentals of Joinery & Furniture Design
(I)
9
51-455DeXign the Future: Human Centered Innovation for Exponential Times9
51-499Senior Independent StudyVar.
General Education Units
9
9
9
Spring 
Studio Units
51-480Design Capstone Project: Service Design4.5
or 51-490 Design Capstone Project: Social Innovation
4.5
Ideas and Methods (Select one Design Elective) Units
51-374Understanding Perception through Design9
51-427Advanced Book Arts Workshop9
51-434Experimental Form9
51-442BME Design Project9
51-452Furniture Design II
(II)
9
51-478Speculative Critical Design9
51-499Senior Independent StudyVar.
General Education Units
9
9

Other Requirements

General education courses should be selected from other departments throughout the university. Students are strongly advised to select a balanced set of general education electives-in addition to Interpretation and Argument, Global Histories and Introduction to Psychology - from three broad areas of study: arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences and engineering, including mathematics. While free electives may include studio courses in other departments, academic electives are non-studio (lecture) courses in other departments. Specific recommendations (and general requirements) for electives in all of these areas are available from advisors in the School of Design. The School places strong emphasis on the value of general education for personal growth as well as professional development. General education electives allow a student to obtain a minor in another department or program, such as business, human-computer interaction, IDEATE, engineering, professional and technical writing, or architecture.

Students may enroll for no more than 18 units of independent study courses, and no more than one independent study per semester. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for independent study. Independent study is permitted only in the third and fourth years of the program. Proposals for independent study courses must be developed jointly by the student and a faculty advisor. Guidelines are available from the School.

A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required to maintain Professional Program status. Grades lower than “C” in required Design courses will result in academic probation, suspension, or drop from the School of Design.

Full-time students are required to enroll for a minimum of 36 units per semester, with 45 units required for expected degree progress (typically five courses per semester). The minimum number of units required for graduation in Design is 360.

Academic Standards

The design curriculum adheres closely to the fundamental professional entry-level standards established by the two leading national design organizations: the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).

Applications 

The School of Design accepts applications from students who are completing secondary education or who wish to transfer from within Carnegie Mellon University. The School also accepts applications from students who wish to transfer from other institutions. Students applying for the program are asked to either 1) submit a portfolio or 2) complete a design project (available as a PDF on the Design web site) as evidence of design ability. This is considered in balance with evidence of academic ability, based on secondary school grades, SAT scores, class rank, and letters of recommendation. The School also accepts applications for the design minors program for a limited number of spaces. Details are available from the design office.

Course Descriptions

Note on Course Numbers

Each Carnegie Mellon course number begins with a two-digit prefix which designates the department offering the course (76-xxx courses are offered by the Department of English, etc.). Although each department maintains its own course numbering practices, typically the first digit after the prefix indicates the class level: xx-1xx courses are freshmen-level, xx-2xx courses are sophomore level, etc. xx-6xx courses may be either undergraduate senior-level or graduate-level, depending on the department. xx-7xx courses and higher are graduate-level. Please consult the Schedule of Classes each semester for course offerings and for any necessary pre-requisites or co-requisites.

51-101 Studio: Survey of Design
Fall: 9 units
Students will conduct activities that will help them notice design in the world, investigate how it works, and describe their thinking about design, through photography, video capture, sketching, note-taking and modeling. They will work through projects in various ways as a means of 'testing-out' and reflecting on command design approaches. This course is for undergraduate design majors only.
51-102 Design Lab
Spring: 9 units
Introduce concepts and methods to familiarize students with a range of analog and digital modes of working across products, communications, and environments. Students will use desktop modeling and comping methods to familiarize them with a range of basic materials to build confidence in using and manipulating material to represent ideas. This course is for freshman Design majors only.
Prerequisite: 51-101
51-103 Design Workshop I
Fall: 3 units
Design Workshop is a special course created for first year design students and serves as a supplement to primary studio and elective courses. In this course, students will explore design activities related to their core studio courses, receive special skills training, engage with guest lecturers, and attend field trips. Each class meets once per week.
51-104 Design Workshop II
Spring: 3 units
A recitation style course that is conducted in service of the primary design courses during the semester to provide further instruction or engage in activities that support themes and issues related to these other courses. May include work days for students to spend in studio with teaching assistants.
51-121 Visualizing
Fall: 9 units
This course introduces basic drawing and sketching techniques including figure-ground translation, 2 pt perspective construction, storyboarding for explanation, diagramming for clarification, field notation for recording through guided exercises, demonstrations, and short projects.
51-122 Collaborative Visualizing
Spring: 9 units
This course introduces frameworks of notational, exploratory and explanatory sketching using collaborative methods and exercises to cooperatively communicate design ideas. This course is for undergraduate design majors only.
Prerequisite: 51-121
51-132 Introduction to Photo Design
Spring: 4.5 units
Using a digital camera, students learn how to extend their 'seeing' with the camera, both in the world and in a shooting studio. Through shooting assignments student will understand how to: deconstruct image meaning and aesthetical choices, construction of photographic meaning and aesthetics, an understanding of color and how color delivers meaning, how a photographic studio works, proper digital photographic workflow and contemporary trends in photography. Intended for Design Majors, or permission of the instructor.
Prerequisite: 51-101
51-134 Photo Design II
Spring: 4.5 units
A continuation of Introduction to Photo Design Prerequites: Introduction to Photo Design; 51-132
51-171 Placing
Fall: 9 units
This course will explore the context in which students study design. Using primarily photography, students compare where they are from to the bioregion of the Ohio Valley of Western Pennsylvania and the history of the steel town, Pittsburgh. Students also learn about the modern Western emergence of design as a profession and discipline, and map the edges of current design practice by interacting with local professionals.
51-172 Systems
Spring: 9 units
Explore how to understand complex phenomena by creating models of the interrelations between components. Students learn soft systems diagramming as well as the systems thinking associated with ecologies, integrative science and sociotechnical regimes. Students also learn how to see design as a way of making interventions into a leverage point in a system in order to transform how it functions elsewhere in the system.
51-173 Human Experience in Design
Intermittent: 9 units
This course introduces the central themes of design and the design professions, and the human centered focus in all aspects of design thinking and practice. We will begin by exploring the nature of having an experience, followed by the broad philosophy of design in relationship to other areas of human activity, the sciences and the arts. We will explore design through its orders of activity: first in communication and second the creation of physical objects. But design has a far greater reach into the intangible and more complex areas of human activity: interaction, systems, environments, and culture. These are the topics of inquiry for design and, unlike what the patchwork of professions would have you believe, are not fixed by boundaries. Design is enormously broad and something everybody participates in as we create the artificial world in which we live. Those who call themselves designers have greater power in shaping this world and for that reason we will end the course with a discussion of ethics. Non-Design majors are welcome.
51-201 CD Studio I: Communicating with Type
Fall: 9 units
As the first studio course in the communication design program, students explore fundamental principles of typography, where type is regarded as image, serving a range of communication goals. Projects allow students to explore form and meaning, hierarchy, legibility and readability, structure and composition, with and without images, in print and on screen. Learning to design across media, in static and dynamic formats, is critical for communication designers, as well as becoming proficient with software tools. The co-required 51-203 Computer Lab will focus on learning software relevant to projects being worked on in studio. While typography is a focused branch of communication design, this introduction to the subject opens a path for students to study all facets of communication in subsequent courses. Providing context to the subject, the course covers basic typography history, relevant typographers and their work, and technologies that have shaped typography. A guided visit to the Hunt Library's Rare Book Room provides added context. This course is for undergraduate Communication Design majors only, or permission of instructor for non-majors.
Prerequisite: 51-102
51-202 CD Studio II: Organizing Information
Spring: 9 units
In this course students participate in a range of exercises, projects, discussions, and readings that are geared towards deepening their understanding of communication design and improving their skills. Course activities require students to consider and propose ways to inform, convince, question, and engage their audiences by clarifying and organizing information. Students deconstruct existing pieces of communication design, studying how their composition, type and image usage, and hierarchy reflects the content being communicated and the order in which it is read. Working in print and digital media, students study the similarities and differences among mediums and explore methods for effectively communicating information in each area. Students analyze design examples from the perspective of the maker and the receiver(s). This facilitates discussions that focus on the role of the designer in the communication of information (Should a designer's voice be evident?) and the need for user-centered design solutions. This course is for undergraduate Communication Design majors only.
Prerequisite: 51-201
51-203 Communication Design Computer Lab
Fall: 3 units
This sophomore-level Communication Design lab introduces students to various software that designers use when creating communication pieces. Software is introduced in support of project work in 51201 CD Sudio 1, providing students with best practices that help them work efficiently and effectively. Software includes InDesign, Illustrator, and AfterEffects. CD majors only, or permission of the instructor.
51-208 Research Methods
Spring: 4.5 units
Learn how to select, conduct, and develop appropriate research methods for understanding and discovering contextual information and behaviors of human participants.
51-211 Generation of Form: Industrial Design I
Fall: 9 units
Generation of Form is the first studio for students in the industrial design program. Students explore product aesthetics and basic formal issues as they pertain to industrial design. This course integrates the principles of three dimensional design, drawing and prototyping as they apply to the generation of product form. Emphasis is placed on issues that dictate the form of products and their creation. Students develop basic prototyping, conceptual drawing, and presentation skills for the purpose of exploring, analyzing, refining and communicating design concepts. Required of ID students; lab fee. Due to space constraints, this course is only offered to undergraduate Industrial Design majors.
Prerequisite: 51-101
51-212 ID Studio II: Meaning of Form
Spring: 9 units
This studio course introduces students to the functional and expressive meaning of product form through creative exploration and decision-making in design. Functional product attributes include those that guide intuitive, safe, and comfortable use; expressive attributes include aesthetic, cultural, and contextual variables. Students are exposed to various methods of conceptual sketching, prototyping, and documentation to realize and communicate ideas in a process that anticipates human interpretation and response to design. Lab fee applies. This course is restricted to undergraduate Industrial Design majors only.
Prerequisite: 51-211
51-221 Color for Communications & Environments
Fall: 9 units
This course will explore the fundamentals of color through the implementation of various media as they apply to their use in communication and expression in design. While this course does not deal with color theory per se we will spend time on the causes and effects of color interaction, color contrasts, color harmonies and color strategies for the effective use of color in our visual design work. We will use both nature and man made constructs to discuss how color affects what we see and its effect on our visual world. Short exercises and longer- term projects will be the vehicles of our explorations. This course is for Sophomore Design Majors.
Prerequisite: 51-122
51-222 Decoding Place
Spring: 9 units
This course will explore ways to decode, see, think and interpret the visual language of 'place'. Through the intersection of found symbols, signs, images and color we will bring to light the function and purpose of our surroundings, and how they speak to natural and the built environment. During the course we will investigate the following question; How do we design visual systems which are understood by everyone, regardless of their language or culture but also work in harmony with natural systems? Students will work with traditional materials and tools as well as computers to understand the strengths and limitations of each, comparing their similarities and differences in the context of theoretical and applied projects. This course is for Communication Design majors only, or by permission of the instructor.
Prerequisites: 51-201 or 51-211
51-223 Color for Communications & Products
All Semesters: 9 units
This course will explore the fundamentals of color through the implementation of various media as they apply to their use in communication and expression in design. While this course does not deal with color theory per se we will spend time on the causes and effects of color interaction, color contrasts, color harmonies and color strategies for the effective use of color in our design work. We will use both nature and man made constructs to discuss how color affects what we see and its effect on our visual world. Short exercises and longer- term projects will be the vehicles of our explorations. This course is for Sophomore Design Majors.
51-224 CD: Web Design
Spring: 9 units
This class will introduce the basics of designing and building websites, the fundamentals of HTML5 and CSS3, and responsive design approaches to assist students in creating semantically sound web pages that can be viewed across a variety of platforms, devices and browsers. The class will help students understand the constraints and advantages of working with the web as compared to traditional print media. Students will also be exposed to content management systems and topics such as responsive web design, research, and information architecture. Upon completion, students will be capable of designing, creating, launching and managing their own web sites. Your own laptop is required, with the following software installed: Adobe CS 5 or later. This course is for Communication Design Majors only.
Prerequisite: 51-201
51-225 Communications Studio I: Understanding Form & Context
Fall: 4.5 units
Giving form to messages and information using type, color, and images will be the focus of this introductory studio in Communication Design. Understanding the connection between content, intent, and form will be the goal of every project and exercise. Principles of hierarchy, chunking, sequence, clarity, and visual voice will guide work for the screen and the printed page, in dynamic and static forms.
Prerequisite: 51-122
51-227 Prototyping Lab I: Communications
Fall: 4.5 units
Learn the basics of the CS suite, particularly InDesign (style sheets), Illustrator, and Photoshop; learn basics of HTML 5.0; the learning of software ideally will align with the activities conducted in the Communications Studio. This is a requirement for Design sophomores studying Communications.
51-228 Communications Studio II: Designing Communications for Interactions
Spring: 9 units
This design studio focuses on designing communications for interactions. Through projects that vary in scale and complexity, students explore ways of inciting interaction and providing feedback in print and digital mediums to recognize the dynamic attributes of communication design. Communication structuresboth traditional and emergentserve as the backbone of the course, as they provide opportunities for students to seek and discover patterns in communication design conventions and apply what they learn to their own work to illicit specific types of interaction. Course projects specifically emphasize the importance of narrative structures to communication design. They prompt students to sketch, diagram, and visually weave together layers of information as a means of moving audiences through a sequence of dense content. This process helps students investigate narrative structures as frameworks that shape interactions with communications and impact audience experiences. The course concludes with an introduction to systems design, where students explore designing for interactions across a set of communication pieces. Prerequisite course includes Communications Studio I.
Prerequisite: 51-225
51-229 Digital Photographic Imaging
Fall: 9 units
The objective of this course is to provide students with a practical, technical and theoretical foundation in digital imaging. The primary software for this course is Adobe Photoshop, with which students will explore construction, combination, manipulation, input, and output of image as a means of narrative creation. Through project critique and other discussion, we will also consider the aesthetic and political implications of the emergence of this and other new electronic imaging technologies.
51-231 Calligraphy I
All Semesters: 9 units
Working with pure unadorned Roman letterforms, this course introduces students to the theory and practice of hand-generated letters, employing a variety of mark-making tools. This course provides an in-depth understanding of the basic principles and techniques of the art of formal writing. Rhythm, texture and composition are achieved through routine, elementary exercises using geometric forms, demanding concentration and manual discipline with the development of hand-eye coordination. The function, use, and harmonious sequencing of letterforms is taught through weekly projects. Awareness of rhythm, texture and letterform structure is achieved through routine exercises. Drills, demonstrations, discussions, individual and class critiques are on-going. Additional related topics and activities introduced in class include books: binding and design. A brief introduction to the historical development of our Western alphabet is provided through film, slides, demonstrations, with discussion of twentieth-century type designs. Students also gain exposure to letter vocabulary, paleography, monoprints, words and punctuation, classical page design, publication design-past and present, and calligraphy's role in design today. Thinking with hands and eyes, the manual placement and spacing of letters practiced in this course awakens sensitivity and judgment in the designer.
51-232 Calligraphy II
All Semesters: 9 units
This course serves as a continuation and deeper investigation of topics explored in Calligraphy I, where students tackle advanced problems in calligraphy and lettering. The introduction of new hands is to be decided by the student and instructor. Prerequisites: 51231
Prerequisite: 51-231
51-236 Information Design
Fall and Spring: 9 units
This undergraduate IDEATE design course focuses on teaching a basic visual design process from start to finish. Students will work individually and in teams to gain proficiency in applying specific design methods to information design challenges at each stage of the design process.
51-239 Prototyping Lab II: Communications
Spring: 9 units
Program simple websites as a means of learning basic HTML 5.0 and CSS; prepare documents for digital and print production using Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat
Prerequisite: 51-227
51-241 How People Work
Fall: 9 units
51241 How People Work: Human Factors (ID/CD Lab I) This course is a general introduction to the field of human-centered design and applied human factors. It centers on the understanding of physical, cognitive, and emotional human needs and desires, including methods employed to acquire this information and translate it into useful criteria for the design and evaluation of products. Lecture, discussion, lab exercises, and projects are employed. Required of all sophomore design students. Others admitted by permission of instructor only.
51-242 How Things Work: Mechanics and Electronics
Intermittent: 9 units
This course investigates the basic principles of mechanics and electronics. Through the combination of lectures, investigations, and lab experiments, students develop simplified representations of complex systems. The skills of freehand drawing, mechanical drawing and three-dimensional models are employed and developed during the project sequence. Instructor permission required for non-Design majors.
51-243 Prototyping
Fall: 4.5 units
A half-semester laboratory mini-course introducing a range of materials, methods, and workshop techniques by which designers prototype designs in three dimensions. Basic competence in shop techniques is established by bringing to realization a series of simple artifacts. Studio and model shop tools are required; lab fee. This course is for ID majors only.
51-245 Products Studio I: Understanding Form & Context
Fall: 4.5 units
Learn basic design processes for understanding the scope of the project, brainstorming, defining the problem, and how interactions aid in developing solutions in relation to a human and user centered activities.
51-246 Visual Communication Fundamentals
Spring: 4.5 units
Design elements are powerful tools for reaching your audience. The objective of this course is to help you understand how to use the fundamental visual tools of communication in your work, and to learn how to evaluate visual communication pieces you encounter in everyday life. Examples of design elements that we will explore are: type, color, format, images, text, pacing and sequencing. We will learn how to use these together to successfully communicate a portfolio of documented design work. This course is required for all ID sophomores.
Prerequisite: 51-211
51-247 Prototyping Lab I: Products
Fall: 4.5 units
Work in various 2D and 3D mediums to represent ideas and solutions; introduce students to digital fabrication methods and output; utilize Adobe CS suite - Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign to communicate 2D representations.
51-248 Products Studio II: Designing Products for Interactions
Spring: 9 units
Introduce student to 3D semantics, how form communicates meaning, and how to make meaningful objects through appropriate material choices and mechanical manipulation; utilize a range and combination of analog and digital tools for higher fidelity output.
Prerequisite: 51-245
51-249 Prototyping Lab II: Products
Spring: 9 units
Introduce students to high fidelity modeling techniques through a series of machines, processes, and or methods to simulate desired form, scale, and proportions
Prerequisite: 51-247
51-251 Digital Prototyping
Fall: 4.5 units
A half-semester laboratory mini-course introducing 3D modeling software. Each class meeting consists of an introduction to and demonstration of specific aspects and functions of SolidWorks software. At the end of each class session, work related to the covered topic(s) will be assigned for completion by the next class meeting. This course is a requirement for all ID majors. Instructor permission required for non-ID majors. Corequisites: 51-211
51-257 Introduction to Computing for Creative Practices
Intermittent: 10 units
This course is an introduction to Java programming for designers, architects, artists and other visual thinkers, using the popular "Processing" Java toolkit for interactive graphics. Intended for students with little or no prior programming experience, the course uses interaction and visualization as a gateway for learning the traditional programming constructs and the fundamental algorithms typically found in a first course in programming. Students will become familiar with essential programming concepts (types, variables, control, user input, arrays, files, and objects) through the development of interactive games, information visualizations, and computationally-generated forms. Because of limited space, only Design majors may take this course. Students following an IDEATE concentration or minor should register for 15-104.
51-261 Communication Design Fundamentals: Design for Interactions for Communications
Fall: 9 units
A one-semester course that introduces non-majors to the field of communication design. Through studio projects, lectures, and demonstrations, students become familiar with the visual and verbal language of communication designers, the design process, and the communicative value of word and image. Macintosh proficiency required. This course is required for HCI double majors and Design minors. Section W - Qatar campus only
51-262 Communication Design Fundamentals: Design for Interactions for Communications
Spring: 9 units
A one-semester course that introduces non-majors to the field of communication design. Through studio projects, lectures, and demonstrations, students become familiar with the visual and verbal language of communication designers, the design process, and the communicative value of word and image. Macintosh proficiency required.
51-264 Product Design Fundamentals: Design for Interactions for Products
Spring: 9 units
A one-semester course that introduces non-majors to product development from the product designer's point of view. Through studio projects, lectures, and discussions, students will gain experience in visualizing a product for mass production. Case histories and the analysis of existing products will supplement hands-on experience in developing product concepts. This course is required for all Design minors. This course replaces the course previously listed as Industrial Design Fundamentals.
51-265 Environments Studio I: Understanding Form & Context
Fall: 4.5 units
Learn the basic design processes for experience-driven multi-modal environments, making meaningful physical and virtual experiences through planning, structuring, and explaining/visualizing; utilize a range and combination of analog and digital tools for high fidelity output.
51-267 Prototyping Lab I: Environments
Fall: 4.5 units
Learn methods for designing interactions in environments through experiencing the space, low-fi prototyping, rapid making, 3D CAD software and video sketching. Express multi-modal aspects of integrated physical-digital-hybrid environments.
51-268 Environments Studio II: Designing Environments for Interaction
Spring: 9 units
Introduce students to the concept of resonant environments that provide meaningful physical and virtual experiences; utilize a range and combination of analog and digital tools for high fidelity output.
Prerequisite: 51-265
51-269 Prototyping Lab II: Environments
Spring: 9 units
Explore simple reactive and interactive programming as a means to support virtual and hybrid digital/physical environments.
Prerequisite: 51-267
51-271 How People Work
Fall: 9 units
Exposure to holistic/emotional, cognitive, and physical factors of people, as approached by designers and interpreted by user/audience, delivered through lectures, readings, and hands-on lab activities; apply principles in team project utilizing human centered field research and design response.
51-272 Cultures
Spring: 4.5 units
Explore the many often-unbridgeable differences between people. These differences may be not only ethnic, but also related to gender, age, class. The course will survey critical theories that are useful for warning of these kinds of differences. Studetns will also explore strategies for negotiating these differences, many of which require time and working at multiple levels.
51-301 CD III: Type, Form, Meaning and Context
Fall: 9 units
This course develops advanced skills in typography and communication design, including the study of type and motion. Students learn to conceptualize and visualize more complex bodies of information for a variety of communicative purposes. Projects encourage students to develop a deeper understanding of the expressive potential of type and image and to develop critical and creative thinking skills with which to assess the effectiveness of their own work and that of their peers. Course objectives are to encourage an active exchange of ideas and information which allow students to develop the ability to clearly articulate their ideas and thought processes in relation to their work. This leads to a more focused method for developing and expressing ideas effectively. Instructor permission required for non-CD majors. Prerequisites: 51202
Prerequisite: 51-202
51-302 CD Studio IV: Designing with Systems
Spring: 9 units
This course is the final studio in a sequence of communication design courses for Design majors. It builds on skills and knowledge acquired in the prior three studios. The course focuses on creating a system of designed pieces using large amounts of content, either self-generated or found, in print and digital platforms, at varying levels of scale. The differences and similarities between existing and emerging platforms of delivery provide students opportunities to investigate the future direction of communication design. Data-driven methods are utilized as a means of research and communication. Projects are situated in social contexts, where student study design systems using type, sound, and images. This course is required of Communication Design majors in the School of Design. Prerequisite courses include Type III, Type II, and Type I.
Prerequisite: 51-301
51-311 Product Design ID III
Fall: 9 units
Students participate in a range of exercises, projects, discussions, and readings that are geared towards deepening their understanding of product design. The activities they engage in will require them to understand and consider the user as the key motivator for new and intelligent concepts that address identified problems/needs. To assist them, systematic processes will be introduced (or built upon) to guide inquiry, ideation, conceptual development, and presentation of products that are useful, usable, desirable, and more feasible than their work to date.
Prerequisite: 51-212
51-312 Products in Systems: ID IV
Spring: 9 units
This course introduces the themes of product planning and the development of products within systems and as systems. The projects are broad in scope and require students to develop products that reflect an understanding of the entire development cycle. Tools and skills for the studio and model shop are required; lab fee. Instructor permission required for non-ID majors.
Prerequisite: 51-311
51-319 Digital Photography in the Real World
Intermittent: 4.5 units
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE REAL WORLD Photographers are active observers. They look until they see what they want others to see -then they compose and click the shutter. In this course students will walk streets with their cameras. They will learn how to use their cameras to better understand what they believe is important, beautiful, and/or intriguing in the world. They will also learn how to communicate their imagery to others through screen-based and print output. Assignments range from accurately describing reality, to showing aspects of life that should be improved, to making images for purely aesthetic reasons. There are two main goals to this course: learning the fundamentals of operating a digital camera and producing digital output; and, learning to become better 'seers' in the world. Students must own a camera but no prior photographic experience is necessary.
51-321 Photographic Narrative
Intermittent: 9 units
Most photographs tell stories. We see photographs in newspapers, magazines, snapshot albums, on the web, in books, and in posters. In these contexts photographs often work with words to convey meaning, whether they are shown with captions, news stories, or just with titles. Photographs can work without words, too, to create purely visual narratives. In this course, students will make a photo narrative and determine how it will be seen. Students may make photo books, for example, or decide that their images will be seen digitally on screen. While students are making photographs, we will explore the rich traditions of photographic story-telling that range from the world-oriented work of photo-journalist W. Eugene Smith to the documentarians such as Walker Evans, Nicholas Nixon, and Alec Soth. We will look at photographers, too, who construct fictional worlds, such as Duane Michals, Cindy Sherman, and Gregory Crewdson. As students make their own narratives, we will look at the interplay between words and photographic images; how images are paced and scaled to create rhythm; how photographs are sequenced to tell stories; and other formal elements involved in creating visual narratives. 12-15 students. Prerequisite-a college level photography course.
51-322 Advanced Digital Imaging
Intermittent: 4.5 units
Building on the technical skills and methods of communicating narrative learned in Digital Imaging Advanced Digital Imaging takes communication to the next level of resolution with particular concern in artifact creation. Students explore historical and groundbreaking means of content delivery.
51-323 Communications Studio III: Designing for Complex Communication Systems
Fall: 9 units
Gain a greater understanding of how to craft communications that resonate with specific people by researching topics/audiences/contexts, by developing/iterating/testing concepts, and by investigating deeply the nuances of typographic form/image/sequencing of interactions; learn how to craft graphic form to express ideas that are not dependent on the reading of words themselves; continue to develop communication systems
Prerequisite: 51-225
51-324 Basic 3D Prototyping
Spring: 4.5 units
A half-semester laboratory mini-course introducing a range of materials, methods, and workshop techniques by which designers prototype designs in three dimensions. Basic competence in shop techniques is established by bringing to realization a series of simple artifacts. Studio and model shop tools are required; lab fee. Instructor permission required for non-CD majors.
51-326 Photography & Family
Intermittent: 9 units
Picturing Families at Sojourner's House In this course we will partner with Sojourner's House to tell photo-based stories of the residents. Sojourner's House (SH), located in East Liberty, is a home for women and families who have faced obstacles of addiction and homelessness. Those at SH have lived through hard times. The women, some of whom are mothers, are now 'clean and sober' but before they came to SH, they were addicts who lived strained lives. As a class we will be working with women and families who now are creating positive change in their lives through Sojourner's House supportive environment. Students, working in pairs, will team with individuals or families. Through weekly sessions, students will explore how the camera can be used to tell a range of different stories, which may range from a traditional photo documentary, to a narrative that is 'directed' by a student with photographs made by Sojourner's House residents. Students may work with children to show their day-to-day life; they may work with an individual woman to tell the story of her dreams; or they may choose to work with staff at Sojourner's House to explore why someone goes into this line of work, to name a range of examples. Students will learn how to sensitively work with people who have experienced extreme difficulty while they are learning about addiction through readings and first hand accounts. While they are getting to know their subjects, students will explore the various ways to create an in-depth photo narrative. Most important, students will learn how the camera can be used to create connections and trust between people. Prerequisite: A college level photography course 12 students - sophomores to grads Familiarity with digital photography
51-327 Introduction to Web Design
Fall: 9 units
This class will introduce the basics of designing and building websites, the fundamentals of HTML5 and CSS3, and responsive design approaches to assist students in creating semantically sound web pages that can be viewed across a variety of platforms, devices and browsers. The class will help students understand the constraints and advantages of working with the web, with this course focused on technically pragmatic solutions for making websites. Students will also be exposed to content management systems and topics such as responsive web design, research, and information architecture. Upon completion, students will be capable of designing, creating, launching and managing their own web sites. Your own laptop is required, with the following software installed: Adobe CS6 or later, as well as other open-sourced software. This course is for Design Majors only, or by special permission of the instructor.
51-328 Advanced Web Design
Intermittent: 9 units
Advanced Web Design builds off of the fundamentals of Introduction to Web Design to make students more sophisticated web designers. Focusing on furthering skills beyond basic HTML5 and CSS3 and responsive design approaches, this course will also delve more deeply into web research and strategy; content development; hierarchy; design thinking; search engine optimization; and introduce students to the basics of PHP and javascript. Students will also gain a basic understanding of databases, work with content management systems, and design and develop for divergent platforms such as phones, tablets, and desktop computers. With an interdisciplinary, team-based approach, students will develop advanced websites while mastering HTML5 and CSS3, looking at what is viable for implementation today as well as looking forward at what technology is reasonable in the near future of web design. Your own laptop is required, with the following software installed: Adobe CS6 or later, as well as other open-sourced software. Students are required to be competent with building responsive web pages to take this course.
51-330 Communications Studio IV: Designing Communications for Social Systems
Spring: 9 units
As the final course in a sequence of studio courses for Communication Design majors, this one builds on everything learned previously. Apply skills/knowledge learned in researching, developing, evaluating, refining communications to multi-facetted communication challenges that warrant the design of multiple communication pieces that span diverse mediums (in print and digital platforms) and function as a system; learn how to design for futuring (parts of the system yet to be determined) and for co-design where parts of the system are made for growth through contributions from audiences. This course is required of Communication Design majors in the School of Design.
51-331 Advanced Calligraphy I
All Semesters: 9 units
This course serves a continuation of study in the discipline of calligraphy. (It meets at the same time as Calligraphy I.) Students may take one of two directions in the course. (1) Enlarging their repertoire of scripts, contemporary or traditional, for use in limited areas of work such as book or display work, or (2) Concentrating on more intensive problem solving using a limited repertoire of scripts such as Roman, Italic, Sans Serif. Prerequisites: 51232
Prerequisite: 51-232
51-332 Advanced Calligraphy II
All Semesters: 9 units
This course serves a continuation of study in the discipline of calligraphy. (It meets at the same time as Calligraphy II.) Students are encouraged to tackle advanced problems or work with the instructor to determine new directions of study. Prerequisites: 51331
Prerequisite: 51-331
51-334 Photography, Community & Change
Intermittent: 9 units
In this course we will partner with Sojourner?s House to tell photo-based stories of the residents. Sojourner?s House (SH), located in East Liberty, is a home for women and families who have faced obstacles of addiction and homelessness. Those at SH have lived through hard times. The women, some of whom are mothers, are now ?clean and sober? but before they came to SH, they were addicts who lived strained lives. As a class we will be working with women and families who now are creating positive change in their lives through Sojourner?s House supportive environment. Students, working in pairs, will team with individuals or families. Through weekly sessions with SH residents, students will explore how the camera can be used to tell a range of different stories, which may range from a traditional photo documentary, to a narrative that is ?directed? by a student with photographs made by Sojourner?s House residents. In all cases, the residents at SH are going through significant change in their lives and we will see how the camera can be used to support individuals during a time of growth. Students will learn how to sensitively work with people who have experienced extreme difficulty while they are learning about addiction through readings and first hand accounts. While they are getting to know their subjects, students will explore the various ways to create an in-depth photo narrative. Most important, students will learn how the camera can be used to create connections and trust between people. Prerequisite: A college level photography course 15 students ? sophomores to grads Familiarity with digital photography
51-335 Mapping and Diagraming
Fall: 9 units
This course explores the different ways in which we communicate complex information, through maps and diagrams. Students will design maps and diagrams using subject matter of their choice. Instructor permission required for non-Design majors.
51-336 The Non-Selfie
Intermittent: 9 units
The Non-Selfie: using the camera to record, probe, and understand one's own and another's behavior This course is the opposite of the selfie, but it uses the camera to record human behavior, both your own and another's. Designers need to be good human observers in order to design for human needs. Designers also need empathy. This course aims to deepen sensitivity to others by first better understanding ourselves. Informed by Manfred Max-Neef's classification of fundamental needs and other relevant materials, we will create two in-depth photo-essays, the first being a study of ourselves, the second being a study of someone who is unfamiliar to us. In the first half of this course, while looking at the tradition of self-portraiture in photography and other media, we will be making in-depth photographic stories of ourselves. In addition to photographs, we may make scans of objects, include personal artifacts and anything else that may contribute to building an in-depth self-portrait. In the second part of the semester, we will apply what we learned to a person who we do not know, in hopes of bringing new insights and methods to understanding for another. In addition, we will look at the rich literature that exists in documentary photography about representing "the other." By the end of the semester, each student's work will be made into a hand-made Japanese stab book of two volumes: a volume on oneself, and one on another. The skills learned in this course are immediately relevant to becoming a good designer.
51-337 Letterpress in a Digital World
Intermittent: 9 units
What value does the antiquated process of letterpress printing have in our current digital world? What can we learn from the process that was used as the primary form of reproducing the printed word for nearly 500 years? As designers and artists, we have the opportunity to re-examine an obsolete mode of commercial printing, and explore how these techniques and technologies can add to our experience, expand our repertoire, and invigorate our working process. Our goal in this course is to seek out new opportunities in expression, resulting from the harmonious merger of new and old technologies. Intended for design juniors and seniors
51-338 Documentary Photography
Intermittent: 4.5 units

Welcome! We’re delighted that you’re interested in applying to our undergraduate degree program. Application is a two-track process:

  • First you apply to the university using the Common Application
  • Then you select the School of Design on CMU's supplemental application, either for the conventional undergraduate degree program or the BXA intercollege degree programs (In either case, you will have to submit a digital portfolio of your work, so we can assess your potential as a designer.)

How to Apply:

Start by filling out your Common Application, and directing it to Carnegie Mellon University. Once you submit to CMU, you will automatically be directed to additional CMU-specific questions. In addition to your essay responses, you can select “Design” as your program of interest. If you're applying for the BXA programs, follow up by visiting the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs Website for further information.

 Whether you're applying to the School of Design as a conventional Design Major or as a BXA student, most of your admissions materials will go directly to the university admissions office for processing. All of the university admissions requirements can be found here. 

About Your Portfolio

As a School of Design applicant, you must submit a digital portfolio by uploading it to CMU’s secure SlideRoom portal (available in October). Please see our guidelines for creating your portfolio. Please do not mail a physical portfolio. Design School faculty members will review your portfolio along with your application and other application materials. 

If you would like to supplement your portfolio, or have not yet assembled one, you may wish to complete our Design Project. It’s a series of four creative assignments designed to help you demonstrate your design potential.

Presenting Your Portfolio in Person

After you submit your portfolio online, you can schedule an on-campus portfolio review around mid-October. It’s an optional step, but we highly recommend it. An on-campus review will enable you to meet with a member of our faculty for a five-to-ten-minute interview, engage with current students, and tour our facilities. To arrange an on-campus review, you must register online after you receive your Common Application receipt verification.

Dates to Remember

  • Online registration opens for on-campus reviews: Mid-October
  • All application materials for Early Decision: November 1, 2017 (try to get your first Common App form submitted in early October)
  • Review day for Early Decision applicants: November 12, 2017
  • Informal critiques for students seeking general portfolio feedback: November 12, 2017
  • Online portfolio submission for Early Decision: November 1, 2017
  • Common Application for Regular Decision: January 1, 2018
  • Online portfolio due by 11:59pm EST on January 15, 2018
  • Review days for most applicants (except transfer students or early decision applicants): January 21 (9am & 1pm, MMCH A14), January 28 (9am, MMCH A14), February 4 (9am, MMCH A14)
  • Review day for transfer students: February 9, 2018

More About Your Application

For more information about application deadlines and portfolio preparation, please see the following pages. If you still have questions, please contact our Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Melissa Cicozi.

For non-design questions about your application, such as concerns about transcripts, scores, or forms, please contact the Office of Admission directly: 


Carnegie Mellon Office of Admissions

5000 Forbes Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

Phone: (412) 268-2082 

Fax: (412) 268-7838 

admission@andrew.cmu.edu
http://admission.enrollment.cmu.edu

Guidelines for Creating a Portfolio

Download Our Design Project Assignment

Information About Early Decision

Information About Transfer Admission

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