UPenn’s Integrated Product Design Program offers a design language

At the heart of the University of Pennsylvania campus, the Integrated product design program (IPD), is the site of a growing culture for creative problem solving. Standing in the IPD studio, surrounded by evidence of this culture, student desks and workspaces are teeming with products and prototypes. The IPD studio immediately appeals to all those who have the spirit of invention.

There are no prototypes everywhere, there are students; engineers, designers and contractors communicate and collaborate, through the shared language of human-centered design that the program provides them. Sarah Rottenberg, Executive Director of the IPD program, highlights this interdisciplinary collaboration as a hallmark of their approach. In the interdisciplinary graduate program, “students always learn from the outside world to find out what they design. They talk to people, observe people, put everything they make in people’s hands, leaving them alone. people experience it. ” Through the program’s approach to collaboration, user research, and applied learning, IPD promises students rare versatility and a solid foundation for innovation.

Student project, “Jarvis” is a mixed reality headset for diagnosing ADHD in children. Project by Parker Murray, Varun Sanghvi and Michael Yates.

The idea for this uniquely designed course was conceived by the collective imagination of Penn’s Wharton School of Business, Penn Engineering, and the Stuart Weitzman School of Design. The interplay of the three disciplines provides education in creativity, technology and entrepreneurship.

The relationship that IPD has with other Penn university programs provides the added benefit of accessing campus-wide resources. In particular, the program’s close relationship with Penn’s Center for Healthcare Innovation has given students the opportunity to attend surgeries and fictitious staff, giving them access to “complex spaces that are in desperate need of improvement. better design, ”says Rottenberg. The fruit of this relationship can be seen in the many medical projects and products that the students of the program have worked to produce.

Julia Lin, second year IPD student is working on a prototype.

The project, titled “ONESCOPE”, is a laparoscope for hands-free visualization of the abdomen.

While the IPD studio has long been comfortably tucked away at Penn Engineering, over the next year or so, the program will be moving to a new home in the soon-to-be-completed future. Tangen Room. The new venue will move the program’s studio to a more commercial area on the edge of campus and encourage the program to flourish in a space designed for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Render of the new Tangen Hall building

Tangen Hall will be outfitted with a number of entrepreneurial amenities, including incubation spaces, manufacturing spaces, and even a “pop-up” retail space for student businesses. The new building will be an architectural embodiment of what IPD hopes to give its students – the ability and opportunity to speak to people, whether they are in the studio, in the office or on the street. “We want them to be everywhere,” says Rottenberg, who encourages versatility and diversity among his students. “I want them to lead innovation in giant companies, I want them to start small businesses, and I want them to work for design consulting firms that help companies move forward with success. things.”

This versatility is reflected in the IPD program. Over the course of 2 years, the program gives students the freedom to pursue the learning they need and allows them to influence the program to effectively support their projects. While the focus is on creating physical products, it is not uncommon to see projects come to fruition in all kinds of forms, a digital interface, a system, a physical product, or even a brochure.

Regardless of the specific direction a student chooses to pursue, human-centered design is the key to the program in helping them understand what users need. User research is part of education at IPD, ensuring that students learn how a product can exist in the marketplace, who it is for, and what makes it worth investing in.

An example of where IPD’s product design program has proven successful is with Lia, the “first and only” rinsable and biodegradable pregnancy test on the market. Lia, thanks to its originality and user-conscious design, has received a number of design and product awards from Fast business, Artistic Directors Club, Women’s health, Tech Crunch Disruption, and more. Lia was also exhibited at MoMA Broken Nature Exhibition in Milan last summer.

Lia is a recent success story of the program, co-founded by Department Director Sarah Rottenberg, Lia, offers a more discreet and environmentally friendly pregnancy test.

Lia’s first sketches from the program.

Lia is exemplary of product design in IPD because it is clearly aware of its users and the environment in which it exists. It is a conception that would not exist without questioning conventional norms and focusing seriously on the needs of women who use pregnancy tests. Innovation occurs in IPD by having the willingness and tenacity to learn something that you don’t know and to work with others who might be able to deliver something that you cannot. Basically, IPD seeks to provide graduates with an understanding and ability to communicate, not only with those you design for, but also with those with whom you design.

The title image shows a rendering of the new Design and Making Lab in Tangen Hall.

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Abdul J. Gaspar

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