So I’ve been at UIC for about 3 years now in the industrial design program. I’m extremely unhappy here, I feel like I’ve lost any kind of inspiration, dedication, and desire to be an industrial designer. Unfortunately for me, I am not that young anymore and I need to finish something. So I figure I’ll stick with it since I have 3 semesters left.

I find myself thinking if I made the right choice, of if I was even meant to be a designer. I’m not the worst of designers and according to several of my professors I have a lot of untapped talent and potential. Still, I cannot bring myself to focus on the projects and stuff. Do you guys believe that a change in environment would be helpful to get my mojo back? Has anyone experienced something similar? Does anyone have any recommendations? Should I transfer? I for one, don’t know what to do.

Do you like your environment? Your classes, your friends, your professors?

Do you enjoy design? Everyone gets burnt out, sick of projects, and just down all in all.

You should look at whether or not your attitude towards school is being driven by your attitude towards life. I know I had a lot of real bad moments in college and looking back only a year and a half later I realize how much that drove me to sit at home drinking and playing video games instead of focusing on school.


If it was any testament to how much I enjoyed design, I would still stay up till 3am thinking about how to solve problems and I think some of my best work came out of that. Thats how I knew I was doing the right thing even if the projects I had at the time were crap.

I love the people here, although we’ve had a history of bad professors. As far as the environment goes, I am really disappointed in the facilities and the universities attitude towards our program in general. We currently have only 2 classrooms. We don’t have a computer lab that belongs to our department, and our lab hours are limiting. That space is slowly getting smaller due to other majors taking over our spaces. IT just seems like ID students are second class students here.

The curriculum definitely needs a lot of work. We don’t have enough drawing classes and our ID classes aren’t structured in a sequential way to build our skills. They seem haphazard and are their content is usually left to the discretion of the professor from my point of view. Our professors keep telling my class that we need to be more involved, motivated, and proactive about design, but most don’t seem to be excited to even be teaching us–let alone be role models to us.

I enjoy design a lot. I doubt that when I do graduate, I will have the toolset to obtain a job and be a good designer. It’s possible that I might be down like you mentioned, it seems though that it all relates to school somehow. Or I may just be projecting?

Regardless, I suppose there’s a lot of figuring out to do on my side. Thanks for the reply.

I agree with Cyber,

all schools have good and bad aspects to them. I am actually planning to transfer to another school after my Junior year. That is not because the school that I am at now is bad, it is just not a 100% what I want to do.
Here in the US (I attend Parsons as an International student), for the tuition we pay, the education should be spot on.

I checked out your school and the portfolio section of your department. Kind of funny, there is only the work of one guy posted, and lots of it.

How do your fellow students feel about the school though?

If you are interested in a mentor please give me a shout. I would love to help out. Also hang in there we all go through similar feelings in school. Trust me it gets better…

I suppose that goes to show how much good work we don’t generate here. In conversations I’ve had with several of my classmates, as well as others from different classes, they seem to feel that our program has been lacking in resources and good professors. One comment I get a lot is something along the lines of “they don’t teach you anything here…if you want to learn something, you have to figure it out yourself…” Most students in the ID department in my class don’t feel confident that what we have learned is to par, in comparison to other schools. Several have mentioned to me that they don’t think they will pursue ID as a profession when they graduate either.

So at least I know that others share my sentiments. I have considered dropping out, transferring, or just sticking with it–but not pursuing ID as a career.

thats pretty tough, is there any chance that you might be able to study abroad somewhere for a semester? i have a few friends that weren’t enjoying design anymore, but went to italy during junior year and came back with fire in the belly. they’ve gone on to great jobs that match what they wanted to do all along, in industries/capacities that don’t match up to what CMU designers usually do.

I was in the exact same situation, there was one good professor who started teaching there my senior year. Literally everything you’ve said was an issue in my program as well. We did have an amazing wood shop, but that was about it. My program is now defunct and I do not make alumni contributions.

I graduated with 14 others, none of them, to my knowledge, are working in any kind of creative design capacity, 1/2 of them should never have even gotten in or been allowed in to an ID program. No entrance portfolio reviews are a red flag that the program is likely garbage. The big eye opener for me was my junior year we visited the Cleveland Institute of Arts, and I knew I was in the wrong place. Same deal, I was almost done so I stuck it out and finished. I realized that I needed to correct my own course and that my school wasn’t going to help me do it. So I took on design competitions, and when I graduated I took some “filler” classes at CCS, the ones that I felt my program severely dropped the ball on. It paid off. So you should look at what your shortcomings are coming out of your current program and find a way to correct that, either through lots of extra personal design work, competitions, classes elsewhere, mentors, etc. It feels like alot of extra stuff to have to do after dishing out a ton of $$ for a degree that should have prepared you, but it all helps.

As far as losing interest in it, it’s something where you want it or you don’t, how hard you work for it is the measure of how bad you want to get it.

Erik, good topic for discussion. I’m a sophomore at CCS and although the program is really rigorous, I’ve been feeling kind of down lately. I feel like there’s absolutely no time to think and I’m being forcibly pushed through a machine (teachers want everyone to be drawing the same way), with no consideration for living or being a person or anything like that. I went to CIA for my first term (car design) and left for CCS because I felt their program wasn’t up to par. I did have alot more fun in Cleveland though, mostly because I had some time to breathe. I guess wherever you go, theres gonna be disadvantages and advantages, but I’m just wishing there was a happy medium between the two (drawing machine and life). If I was in your position, with not much motivation , I would just start doing my own thing, personal projects or online community projects on the side, maybe draw whatever you’ve always wanted to draw but never got around to, for me that would be the human figure which I’m trying to do a little bit of every other night. Just sit down and do whatever you feel like for a change. I try to do this as much as I can and started a blog which I think has kept me sane over the past year.

Anyway I just wanted to say I’ve also been feeling down lately about how things are run here, even if it is different from at your school. And the grass is always greener on the other side, hang in there and good luck etc. etc.

Well, the truth is, if you actually want to have a “life” at CCS being a ID student, then you probably won’t survive it well. At CCS, work = life. If you don’t enjoy busting your a55 working every single second of your time other than eating and sleeping, you aren’t working hard enough. It’s about the passion that doesn’t go through your brain.

Secondly, transportation design in the US is a very enclosed culture. Some will probably disagree with me, but I am speaking from my own observations. There are rules for car designs which become the basis for what a car should look like. It’s what the industry wants and what feeds the industry. I am not saying that this is good, but surely, there have been “controversy” designs that challenge the industry, mostly not from the US brands however.

Thirdly, you are a sophomore. Like a kungfu student, you are still at your foundation level. You are in no place to talk about developing what you feel is right yet. You need to bend over and learn whatever they offer you. It’s a privilege to be honest. When you have excelled the basic techniques, you will develop your own techniques naturally. There is no hurry.

Furthermore, you are not officially in the trans program yet. Right?

As for unsatisfied with school, I am sure every student had their moments. I was absolutely pissed with my studio professor in my very first semester because he literally did not know how to teach. It was ridiculous. I then spent the summer doing a ton of practice. By the next semester, I improved a lot. I realized that it’s not what they give you, it’s how much you get out of them. I got myself 4 internships before I graduated without a co-op program like they have in UC. It’s all self-initiated. If you have the time to complain, you probably have time to do something about it. If there is no road that you need to take, create it.

If you don’t like your situation change it. Def pick up the mentor. But get a group of your colleges together are arrange a formal meeting with the A&D heads (maybe even don’t invite ID faculty). Your paying for it so they will let you have a meeting. And do it professionally, behave (not that you wouldn’t) dress nice, and have all your ‘complaints’ written out and discuss them openly with the A&D people. I’d keep the whole deal on the down low, on a need to know basis. But through a dialog like this you can facilitate quite a bit.

About being unmotivated and ‘stuck’ well that may be more of an internal issue. Read a book, go to a museum your in Chicago so there are no shortage of stores museums and bookstores/library’s.

“One comment I get a lot is something along the lines of ‘they don’t teach you anything here…if you want to learn something, you have to figure it out yourself…’”

One thing I appreciated from my professors when I got into my ID program was that they made it clear that my success depended solely on me - they help us along and facilitate our progression, but that knowledge has helped me be really proactive in learning about design and the business of it. It would be difficult if they didn’t make that clear of front, but if you’re passionate enough, I think you can still be successful.

Just trying to contribute to the discussion, wasn’t expecting a lecture. All I’m saying is that rather than feeling unaffected by my professors, my car studio teacher pushes much stronger than I’ve experienced. Deadlines move so fast that I feel like work isn’t about passion and thought, its about rushing to get the damn thing done. And I see the outcome of the tight tastes, rules and restrictions the auto design community enforces regularly “designing for designers” in the sketches of my peers and superiors. And that It would be nice for things to lighten up a bit. I know I got off topic a bit, but its just another pitch at thef “Happiness at design school” discussion.

About being in the trans program, I made the first cut to the auto program (now split between trans and auto), next year our class of 26 will be cut in half, so who knows, maybe I will maybe I wont, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be entitled to my opinion.

You’re probably right. I guess ID is not for me then after all. :confused: