Ever Considered an ID Minor?


Many students come to Georgia Tech looking to figure out what exactly they want to do with their lives, but what they don’t realize is that college isn’t as long as they had imagined, and the time they have to make decisions is even shorter. Before they know it, it is time to make decisions like where to spend their 15 breadth elective hours to make the best out of them. Nearly 15 percent of BME undergraduates pursue a minor. And, in my search for the ideal minor, I came across Industrial Design (ID).

As of Fall 2017, 43 of the 173 BME students pursuing a minor are in ID.

Students pursue an ID minor for various reasons. In some cases, students who spent years focusing on STEM classes at Georgia Tech or in high school view an ID minor as a creative outlet. Many other students realize their interest in ID upon taking the design class, BMED 2310. In other cases, they take up ID because they wish to work in areas such as Research & Development or Product Design.

If you are looking into an ID minor or cannot decide which minor is for you, this article outlines a few characteristics about the ID minor and a few experiences for students who have done an ID minor with their BME degree which might make your decision-making process slightly easier.

There are several advantages to minoring in Industrial Design. The focus on design helps students view problems from a different approach as compared to their BME classes, helping them become better problem solvers. Communication is also a very important skill that students who pursue an ID minor learn.

Many times someone can have a brilliant idea, but, not know how to get clients, bosses or investors interested in it. This is where Industrial Design comes in.

In addition, the ID minor helps students work better in interdisciplinary teams that focus on design.

An Industrial Designer meets the needs and wants of the user by improving upon a product. The ID minor comprises of four required classes and one elective. Two of the classes, Human Factors Design, ID 2320 and ID 4833, when offered during the summer, can be taken as both minor classes and BME depth electives.

Human Factors Design focuses on designing tangible products that interface with the human body. The class also delves into designing products for individuals with differing abilities. It is also the only lecture class in the ID minor curriculum.

Visual Design Thinking, ID 2401, primarily teaches students how to communicate their ideas to potential consumers, investors, clients, peers and so on who may have no prior knowledge about your idea. It teaches how to draw the audience into the idea. According to advisor, Mr. Troy Whyte, the class might initially feel like a sketching class in which you will learn how to draw ellipses, boxes, etc.

Although, students do not need to have a background in sketching or drawing, it is imperative that students spend time practicing these basic visual representation skills. The class further focuses on how to incorporate these sketches and skills into a graphical design context and into presentations, reports, posters etc. impactfully.

Another required course is Design Methods: User-Centered Design, ID 3320. It focuses on the research phase of Industrial Design.

It teaches you to discover what your users truly want and need and how to frame your questions for the subject so that they do not include any personal bias.

Your research method could be anything such as online surveys or street surveys, users testing a prototype or building a persona.

The fourth required class is ID 4833, Special Topics: Collaborative. For this class, a student can choose one of the many topics being discussed such as adaptive reuse or furniture design. For instance, Cristina Quintero, a 5th year BME student’s class project was to build a coffee table. This is an Industrial Design Studio class in which students spend 3 hours in the studio with their instructors every week. It calls for students to use all the design methods they have learned to create a product.

It is generally recommended that this be the last ID minor class that a student takes. One exception to this is the class offered during the summer semesters with Dr. Steven Sprigle.

In his class, student teams work in conjunction with therapists, nurses, and pediatric patients with mobility issues at the University of North Georgia towards redesigning of mobility devices.

A huge challenge of this course is that students must incorporate the needs of many users, such as parents, nurses, and young patients into their designs. This challenge is also what makes the class most rewarding as the students communicate with these users to find out what they really want and need. This class is also a great class for BME students who may not be minoring in ID to take.

In addition to these four classes, students are required to choose one elective. For instance, Cristina picked Industrial Design Computing II which is a 3D modeling and rendering class. She learned more about modeling in SolidWorks and rendering softwares Photoview 360 and Keyshot. She chose this elective to build upon her existing SolidWorks skills from BMED 2310 and because rendering would be a helpful skill to have when presenting advanced concepts.

“Going through the ID minor classes I have learned how to use Solidworks very well as we all learned how to grab people’s attention with my work. This will help me not only in product development but also for presenting projects to any peer/client/boss.”

Mauricio Rojas

Now, if any of this makes you feel like you want to explore Industrial Design, then applying for the minor is really simple. Mr. Troy Whyte meets with every student who wants to learn more about the minor. You can make an appointment with him at gradesfirst.com. If you wish to pursue the minor, you may fill out the addition of minor form, which he will sign. Registering for ID classes requires a permit.

Mr. Whyte recommends that minor students request him for this permit via e-mail as soon as the class schedule is online and not wait until their time tickets open. He also recommends that students not take more than two ID classes in a semester because that fills up seats for the ID major students. Students can also complete their minors during a new summer initiative in which all the classes for the minor will be offered and arranged so that they are in sync with each other, project deliverable dates are spread out and may continue from one class to another.

Thus, if you are convinced to look into an ID minor, it is good to realize that ID classes are not as technical as BME classes, so although they might not feel as intensive, they can be time – intensive while forcing you to think creatively. So, ID classes can be as difficult for a BME student as BME classes might be for an ID st8dejt.

“Unlike engineering, most of your projects and assignments have subjective grading so you will often get many critiques or have to do a review in front of your class. My best advice is to remember to not take harsh critiques to heart; they are not a review of you as a person but just your design. This can sometimes hard and frustrating to remember at times when you have worked on a design for countless hours, but just remember they are there to make sure the best possible design makes it and that you grow as a designer.”

Cristina Quintero