Summer '14 Design Programs


I am someone trying to break into Product Design and doing some soul searching in terms of the best avenue to pursue:

User Experience/Mobile or Industrial Design or some combination.

My background is Industrial Engineering and spent a few years on the manufacturing floor of Tesla in Fremont, CA optimizing assembly lines. But my true passion (since I graduated) has been design.
My goal is to get a masters in an integrated product design program or an ID program in which I can have an outlet for more technically inspired projects. I have a special appreciation for well designed products that have an integrity in design for manufacturability.

I recently left my job to have more time to focus on making this switch and to work on my portfolio. Right now I am preparing for GREs and trying to get some projects started. I got around to it late but I am thinking of a good way to utilize this summer by perhaps taking a studio type of design class to help me churn out more projects for my portfolio.
I am wondering if these programs would be work cost and time wise for me and based on my situation.

What is your opinion on the following opportunities? (please feel free to make suggestions beyond these).

FYI I am located in the SF Bay Area


  1. RISD - Intro to Industrial Design + Sketching/Rendering for Industrial Design
    Cost: $5000 ($2500 each)

  1. Parsons - Product Design
    Description: Students research utilitarian products, examine their uses, study the marketplace, and explore the three-dimensional design process. Working in groups as well as individually, students study the human body and its proportions, draw on research and technical drawings, and tap into their imaginations to create models, present each stage of their design process, and construct functioning design objects. (4 credits)
    Cost: $3364
    End of May - July

  2. Academy of Art - Design Drawing 1 or Model Making 2
    Cost: $2400/class

These are pretty vocational looking classes and seem like I could learn the skills in my own time. Not sure how it would directly benefit my portfolio

  1. California College of Art - Design Drawing or Urban Mobility 1
    Cost: $4998

These prices seem too high for the class.

  1. Art Center Night - Various Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Product Design Offerings
    I just found out about ACN and they seem to have a pletohora of classes available at night. Many of them meet once a week and extend from now until August. They dont seem as boot camp type and seem geared towards working professionals. I am in a time crunch so maybe something more intensive would suit me. The range of their offerings seem impressive and Ive heard great things about this school though.

Hey Darkstar,

Edit: Sorry somewhere I thought I read that you wanted to take online classes at the Academy of Art - which I do not recommend.

Design Drawing 1 is an O.K. course, however, the most rigorous instructor is leaving after this semester. Model making 2 is a class that in my opinion is not up to date in today’s world of industrial design. It’s one of the most hated courses here.

If drawing is what you want to bootcamp, I would recommend grabbing Scott Robertson’s book “How to Draw” and going at it over spending $2500 dollars for one class at the Academy of Art. For that amount of money I recommend going somewhere else if you have the opportunity.

The Art Center at Night programs is geared towards students who don’t have the portfolio or skill set to be accepted into the full time program. The whole goal being that after a certain amount of classes you will have been trained and guided into making a successful entrance portfolio.

I hope that helps a little bit,


number 2 will give you insight into the 1000 foot view while the other appear to give you training on the skill…

question do you want to know if you have the skill or determine if you will like it…

I would go with 2

Thanks for your advice. I think right now I am leaning towards either Parsons or RISD. It’s a hard choice one being in NYC and the other at well, RISD. I should pick the class that can best be a platform for me to work intensively on a portfolio piece and get some professional critiques.

And thank you Aaron for the insight on Academy of Art. I had a feeling the courses would end up that way. I think taking classes at ACN would be a great idea. They have a product development process class in July but maybe I’ll follow suit and temporarily move to LA and take some classes in fall.

I agree that right now I think I need a trial studio immersion to see if I would like pursing this field.

FYI Lawrence Mayer is teaching the Parsons Product Dev Class and Amy Leidtke is teaching the RISD one.